There’s perhaps very few things in the world that a good night’s sleep cannot make better of. A nasty fight with bae? Cry yourself to sleep. Terrible headache? Put the throbbing pain to a deed slumber. Feeling queasy? Seek comfort in the warm confines of your bed. No wonder with a range of such psychological impact that a sound sleep can have on us, it’s also one of the most important physiological activities that all living beings necessarily have to ‘perform’.
But why is sleep so soothing? In its surprising power of endowing us with a certain reassurance, that it ironically does by just shutting off the mind to any form of external stimuli, unless of course it’s a loud thud that shatters it all, sleep is the universal way that helps us hold our sanity in a world insane. In being the end of every single day of existence, sleep in fact is more universal than any of the vital life functions the body needs to perform to keep us well and alive, even surprisingly without any scientific consensus on the importance of it. Perhaps even more than the near orgasmic realm that food leads us into. And certainly more concerning of our beings than any other life exercise that we need to undertake in pursuit of heart and health. But that is just what defines the dimension of sleep in all its physicality. What however comes across as more poignant and more resilient a nature of sleep is the many ways in which it exerts influence on our psyche.
The reason why sleep might be so effective a means of ‘curing’ us of our everyday disillusionments and despairs is perhaps because it offers an escape from the drudgery of reality. When we are sleeping, our concerns and worries cease to hold any effect whatsoever on us. Of course, you might still be losing sleep over your grave life dilemmas but once you slip away into the alleys of the labyrinth of what is but an intense experience almost outside the folds of life, there’s nothing in the universe that can bug you. No issues, no worries can get unto you when you lull away in the lap of the sleep fairy until the moment you are a walking- talking wide awake individual again. In sleep, there is no pride to rev you up neither is there the humiliation of what might have been your biggest regret to constantly put you to shame. Sleep is peaceful not because it is free from the clutches of the many life qualms, but instead because it does not let anything get to you- not the good, neither the bad can affect you, mentally at least, till the time you are blissfully dazed in sleeping stupor.
But even in its state of blissful ignorance, sleep might allow for the random perpetuation of some life experiences and concerns. This explains why dreams- and nightmares as well, so often occur and recur as we continue whiling ourselves away in the neutral confines of sleepland. To that extent, sleep might even be luxury- affording you experiences surreal, indulging in your fantasies of the imaginary to lead you to bask in a world of parallel reality where you live a life outside your own. In even its momentary expanse of what we desire to be, the dreams that we witness in our sleep might be yet another assertion of how this vital life function further insinuates the desire for escape we very often harbour, to a world not immersed in the mundanity of what otherwise characterises our ordinary life. Catering therefore immensely to the explorations of psychology in measures beyond what makes up our understanding of the world we live in, sleep then can also be an insinuation of the vast chasm of what can come to characterise life in its unknowns. In any way though, whether it be the dimensional explorations of sleep or the pervading world of its dreams, sleep indeed is an escape from the realities of life which is what makes it the proverbial land of utopia to exist for all of us, where we are rendered free, ironically in this case through something that might even cease to have us existing for the moment.
This effect on the psychology translates also as efficiently to the bodily response that what we experience after a night- or day, if you will- of good sleep. Even when we might feel all groggy and stuff after waking up from a deep slumber and seemingly unable to make it through the ravages of the day without ek garam chai ki pyali or a cup of strong coffee to help us let go that intoxicating halo of sleep that shrouds us like some enigma we are unable to do away with, the physical manifestation of an undisturbed sleep speaks well through what it leads your body and mind to. It might be somewhat perplexing that even after a night of the best sleep you have had in recent times, in fact particularly after what might be one of the best sleeps of your life, you find yourself unable to break free from the consistent cycle of yawning that grips you in all fetish. You might have thought that a session of long, uninterrupted sleep-as-you-please is what might cure you of this rather annoying buildup of the open mouthfuls you have been experiencing throughout the week. But yawns in fact are what prepares you for the transition from sleepy to waking by regulating your body through different states of energy and alertness. Necessarily though then, yawning can sometimes be an indicator of how well you slept the previous night despite its provocation of the contrary.
The mechanism of the yawns is however not the only thing about to perpetuate in cycles. Equally related is sleep to overall health as poor sleep can be the reason for as well as the result of a poor health. In being one of the first signs of distress, sleep disturbance can help us gauge just why a good night’s sleep is so integral to our existence as healthy, functional individuals ready to take on the world despite the vast universe of gloom that we had been so immersed in just the sleep before. Sleep recharges and refreshes the brain, allowing it of course to retain all the information but also endowing you with a certain positivity that has you stressing less over what might have transpired with your person.
Sleep indeed is one of the most ‘popular’ reactions to stress and especially in the dream phase of it can be also a form of overnight therapy that helps in easing the ‘trauma’, or less intensely the feeling of general badness associated with the events that had characterised our prior sleep experience. As a state of the subconscious where memories are being reactivated, put in perspective and connected and integrated, but also where stress neurochemicals are beneficially suppressed, sleep occurs as perhaps the most natural of ways to put behind events of the past even without tending to disassociate our perception of it. Quite simply, with the brain processing emotional experiences during this period of rest called sleep when the chemicals that cause stress are at their potential lowest, it helps in inducing a more positive approach to such events so that we wake up in good spirits and not as much affected as what we had been in our life prior to our resort to this stress coping mechanism.
Indeed then in helping us get more positively acquainted with whatever is characterising our lives at the moment, sleep isn’t really the escape from reality we so tend to believe that it is. The escape might be still a very valid case in point but in being only a temporary avoidance of the life issues, if at all that is what might have coaxed you into your tonight’s sleep some couple of hours earlier than the usual, sleep ends up helping us process better the emotional juggernaut that rules lives all through. Essentially, this build up of the emotions is also what can drive you to sleep in the first place. Through the time it occurs in subsequent passage of time, sleep helps by toning down our body so that the mind too does not have much to actively fuss over. As the stress mechanism of our body manages to take a dip, our being begins to relax which means whether it be a hurting wound of the body or a tense buildup in the psyche, all seeks to ease down more than quite a bit after that essential, almost therapeutic bout of sleep. This explains why we almost feel like a new person when we wake up, particularly from such a sleep either induced as a defense mechanism or one that in fact lulls us to the deep reaches of comforting nothingness. In healing both body and mind through its many functions that it dwells on even in the subconscious, sleep might be more essential than the importance it commands as a highly underrated function of life.
Regulating therefore the body’s stress mechanism makes sleep one vital aspect of human health. While psychologically this particular attribute of sleep helps to substantially ward off the depressed feels as well as bolsters our social and emotional intelligence by way of making us more alert, the physical benefits of sleep are no less profound. Quite surprisingly, sleep, proper sleep that is, might be helpful in managing the weight concerns of the body particularly by regulating calorie intake. Boosting heart health and overall immunity are some of the other reasons why every night’s sleep matters so much because ultimately the physical state of the body too takes a toll on mental health. Sleep being a primal assertion of the state of existence of all living beings, it is no wonder why everything really seems to make a lot more sense when you wake up from that deep sleep with a self invigorated. In such betterment of life then, sleeping away your troubles sure can be the melodic panacea of all your ills- and one that we are more than happy to indulge in any time, anywhere!