Thanksgiving break’s around the corner! One of the sweetest things with a weeklong break is sleeping. Yeah, I know it’s old-chestnut stuff. Andrew talked about blogging topic today and he specifically mentioned that sleeping has outshined the topic of sex to be the sexier topic. I don’t intend to bring more headache to our TAs as they might have seen a whole lot of blogs with similar discussion of sleep. Today, I want to do something rarely mentioned.
It was before my preparation that the winter of State College chimes in, and the temperature got more and more intolerable these days. What’s worse, the heater in our apartment hasn’t been working properly, since it deserts us when we are deprived at midnight and embraces us when we are spared during the daytime. Compared to just a month ago, falling into sleep becomes a much harder task these days. Most alarmingly, almost like a lasting strike in my body, I found it quite demanding to nudge myself out of that cozy environment in the morning. I even skipped a morning class this week which I had never done before intentionally. It was sort of a transformation that has dawned on me and disqualified me from a morning bird to a tardy snail which desires the snugness of the shell.
Photo Courtesy of The Muslim Observer(TMO).
I remember lucidly how motivated I was in the late summer and early fall in the morning when alarm went off. Though I did snooze a bit on occasions, it didn’t hurt my daily schedule to the slightest. What has happened to my body which radically altered my sleeping pattern, and even beyond, shut off my energy outlet in the morning these days?
First of all, I interested in the question of why our bodies are quite finicky to temperature for a sound sleep. We have heard of tales about poor wretches were jerked out of their dreams because of some chills (simply caused by displaced fleece thrower or so), or more dramatically, a cadre of soldiers died deep in trenches due to hypothermia in inclement weather during WWII. On the contrary, barely are we disrupted by the warmth during our sleep, which is made possible by an enclosed area with zero or few air transference.
When talking about comfortable temperature of sleeps, I recalled some debilitating episodes when I caught colds at young age. My mom would cover me with layers of blankets, in attempt to drive my sweat out. This article does not serve the purpose to explain the mechanism of toxin discharged with perspiration, but it is quite inspiring for me toward the solution of the temperature problem. Not necessarily to sweat hellishly as a remedy for cold, do we actually sweat a lot during sleep which helps our body in a particular way? Were that being the case, the requirement of minimal warmth for an undisturbed sleep would have been justified easily.
Do we really sweat during sleeps? When I look up online to see what our community has to offer, I was shocked that sweat sounds much more like a bane than a normal physical activity during sleep. I was flooded with the result of hyperhidrosis. According to the index of CNN Health Channel, “hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that occurs even when the temperature isn’t hot and you’re not exercising.” When I first swept across this fresh notion, I thought that the scenario being described is most likely to happen during the sleep. If hyperhidrosis stood out as an undesirable symptom which bothers sleepers, it gives me a blurry vision that normal people should not sweat during sleeps? Well, is this hypothesis tenable then?
In an article by Mark Boyer, he tackles with hyperhidrosis again. But instead of coming to rescue for solutions, he cobbled up some conjectures which dovetails well with my experience: “Nobody likes to wake up in a pool of sweat in the middle of the night…and it’s important to look at all of the possible variables. The first and most obvious thing to consider is temperature and overall comfort of the sleeping environment.” Occurred in the exact same way when my mom tried to cure my cold during the night, this observation immediately grabbed my attention. If sweating, let alone the quantity, is essentially bad for our health during the sleep, a rational person has a strong inclination to deduce that a normal person does not sweat in bed.
But without too much hesitation, I doubt about this idea at once. It is generally accepted as a common sense that even though our mind is somewhat in a relaxed state at night, our metabolic system is operated at full steam. A wide array of body wastes were secreted out during this time, giving an equilibrium of our metabolism. Being the most apparent manifestation of metabolic activity, why sweating is abnormal during the night, if nothing can be more normal than that? It comes as a farcical paradox. Then, I ask myself this question. If a warm temperature, which I so hope from the heater, does not guarantee an effective sleep at night and give the green light to our metabolism attunement, why do we look forward to sleeping as warm as possible at night?
I guess this conundrum could be disentangled rather simply: we do sweat on the face of our skin during the night, but the amount of discharge is negligible on a vast scale of our perception. It evaporates gradually during the sleep and goes totally unnoticed in the morning. This hypothesis perfectly clears the mist of sweating mystery in our sleep. When it is a paltry amount, nobody cares, but a misguided voice that we don’t really sweat arises; when it is a massive amount, everybody panics, for it defies the normalcy of dryness during sleep as they suppose.
Drawing knowledge from this discussion, I think the one of the most crucial mentalities in scientific studies is to handle extremities cautiously. It does not mean that science cannot be proved on extremities, for H. pylori is the only cause of ulcers as we studies recently, but I only suggest that we should think twice before arriving to a conclusion misled by an extremity. In this case, neither anhidrosis (lack of sweating) nor hyperhidrosis during sleeps wholesome for our health. But a moderate amount of sleep, which is not easy to determine in this case, entitles you as a normal person, if not a hearty one.
I just talked about the role of temperature plays in our sleeping patterns, but I have missed something with the story. I do not hesitate to tell you that I slept much more recently as the prelude of a harsh winter reaches State College. There must be some reasons to square off this confusion. Not surprisingly, the temperature theory wins my favor again, because this fatal decrease on thermometer will probably also cause stagnancy to our body, like what we refer frequently as the state of lethargy.
The research tells me that I was just off the bull’s-eye on this one. Instead of the slump of temperature, the independent variable turns out to be the intensity of sunlight. An article from fitwatch.com helps me considerably understand this proposition. “The science behind all of this [seasonal change of sleep pattern] involves serotonin and melatonin, two neurotransmitters in the brain. Melatonin is produced when we sleep. Sleeping too much produces abnormal levels of melatonin. The more we sleep, the more we want to sleep because of the increase in this neurotransmitter.” Alright, this makes a great sense to me to explain my behavior of skipping class for more sleep after an 8-hour one, but it didn’t specify the variable of season. It doesn’t take me long to reach the following lines: “During the summer, we experience higher serotonin levels. Serotonin is responsible for our mood. When sunlight is in short supply, our serotonin levels fall and we don’t have so much energy or so many good feelings.” This article leaves me a good position to elaborate further.
The primary drive of seasonal change with sleep is as simple as two conflicting variables vying for prevalence. When summer kicks in, massive sunlight exposure spurs the production of serotonin, and therefore keeps us highly motivated throughout the day; when it turns to winter, the shortage of sunlight suppresses the level of serotonin, vacuuming our energies to consecrate the chilly weather. In addition, as previously indicated, melatonin accumulates during our sleep. In a dank winter morning, when the assumption that beyond the bed lies a territory of hostility creeps in, we are not in the least encouraged to get off. This reluctance gives melatonin an unrivaled opportunity to decimate the serotonin, and then we become the victim of chemical overkill in our body regulatory mechanism.
Photo Courtesy of CNN Health Channel.
Nevertheless, the inability to get up in the morning is far from the worst of situation that ensues after the change of season. Seasonal Affective Disorder, coincidentally with the acronym of SAD, is what drags us down. A CNN editorial reveals the underlying factor of its development: “Seasonal affective disorder can be expected in regions of the world that are farther away from the equator and thus experience seasonal changes in daylight hours more dramatically.” State College’s latitude is well above 40� north of the equator, thus making it a representative venue of the peculiar climate. That article also suggests that SAD occurs most frequently on women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Being a legitimate male, I am fortunate at least at this moment without a tract of SAD symptoms save some difficulties of getting up. However, to the best of my knowledge, the sound of SAD seems to have an ability to cause depression. Once a victim of the latter, I absolutely do not want it again.
I have to confess that instead of an open talk of SAD, this blog is more a gossip about sweat during our sleeps. My fellows, have you ever noticed evident sweat on your body when you get up? Are you confused when that happens to you? If not, please tell me your theory of that phenomenon.
Above all, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!