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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Batman and the Night Owl

I feel that I write better at night, particularly at midnight onwards so I use those times to compose my blog drafts. I do not know if it is the same with other people although I have heard about a few who experience the same. I feel that ideas flow profusely at those wee hours perhaps because I can concentrate more with I am writing since it is more quiet at night and there are less distractions. However, there seems to be a setback. I feel very sleepy during early afternoons particularly after lunch. I am like a bat that hangs in sleep during the day and soars high in flight during the night or an owl that is wide-eyed awake during the night and sleeps at daytime. The problem is that I need to edit my compositions in my computer before posting them to the net but I cannot work if my mental faculties are at rest.

In the book, 1001 Science Questions Answered, the body sleeps presumably to recover lost energy since heartbeat, breathing and body organs slow down in sleep. Interestingly, however, the brain is highly active when we are asleep. The brain uses this time to assimilate experiences we have had during the day and consolidate what we have learned through out the day. Perhaps, that includes erasing useless information. The human brain is very much like a computer that needs to defrag and clear its cache.

However, do you know that our sleeping behavior has something to do with our genetic structure? According to the book, our internal clock regulates how tired we get and how long we sleep, which causes the brain to release neurotransmitters that induce sleep. These include the sleep hormone melatonin, which the pineal gland produces in larger quantities during the hours of darkness. The book also said that our genes determine our need for sleep and therefore varies considerably in each individual. The genes, therefore, determines if a person will be a rising lark or a night owl. Although, there are other factors that affect the behavior. One is the amount of light that a person gets during the day since daylight is an important environmental clue that body uses to set its biological clock to local time and synchronize it with the naturally occurring light-dark cycle. Another factor is age. Many young people’s most active phase happens in the night that is why an early start in a school day causes a problem to some individuals. Generally, about 4-12 hours of sleep is normal according to experts as long as the person feels well.

Yawn! Yawn! Yawn! It feels so good to sleep…. Hhrrk… Hhrrk…

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