Several of you have asked the obvious question: Why are we tracking the hours slept before midnight versus the total hours slept in a night? I will give you two answers.
First, the one based in behavioral economics, is that I want to incentivize you to get to bed earlier. It can be convenient to sleep in after getting to bed late, but this has been shown time and again to wreak havoc on our immune systems, cognitive functions, and hormonal milieu. So I want to track the hours and minutes we sleep before the clock strikes midnight, which by the way is an old term meaning quite literally the middle of the night. It is not as some of you treat it the siren’s call to come to bed. You all have proven that you will quite literally bleed for points on a scoreboard, so let the scoreboard force us to strive in the worthwhile pursuit of getting more of our sleep hours before midnight.
The other reason I want to track hours before midnight is that of the evolution of sleep and our natural diurnal rhythm of being awake during the sunny day and asleep during the dark night. Sleep is an old tool. Invertebrates like worms sleep, and worms predate us by some 500 million years. Something that predates even the worms is bacteria. Bacteria have active and passive phases that correspond to the same light-dark cycle to which we respond. And so we, in the cellular organism sense of the word, all have natural circadian rhythms that flow like a sine wave between peaks of wakefulness and troughs of sleepfulness. Most people BEGIN the descent into their trough of peak sleep sometime in the early afternoon and bottom out around midnight.. And most people begin their ascendancy to peak wakefulness sometime in the very early AM hours and crescendo around lunch. And so when we speak broadly about sleep we can posit that people should be allotting at least 8 hours of sleep opportunity, and this allotment should begin as near to sundown as possible.
I look forward to diving into the topic of sleep on this blog in the subsequent posts this month!