Readers: This is an ongoing hypothesis that has changed a lot over the past years. For many of the newest ideas that adjust some of these here, see
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By understanding why we sleep, we may resolve many chronic health and psychological problems. Many of these problems may be directly connected to the two transition points of a daily digestion cycle – wake to sleep, and sleep to wake.
Two sleep basics
Sleep as half of the daily digestion cycle.
Two major problem areas: wake to sleep and sleep to wake
Length of each transition phase.
Many underlying problems of sleep.
Sleep temperature needs to be adjusted.
Three main clues
Conscious awareness of how the body works, helps resolve the problems.
Two facts that support the overall hypothesis
Sleep pattern set up in childhood
Testing the Hypothesis
Here is a hypothesis on why we sleep. There also seems to be a vast layer of health and psychological problems that come from sleep disorders, that until now, were not known.
By understanding why we sleep, we may resolve many chronic health and psychological problems, specifically problems of Deep Sleep. These problems may be resolved by adjusting body temperature.
This hypothesis is based on looking at life as evolved forms of catabolic type or anabolic type processes. (See my other discussions). This way of looking at biochemistry may give many insights.
TWO SLEEP BASICS
First there are two things everyone recognizes about sleep:
1. Sleep is VERY important. Whether its fruit flies, fish, cats or humans , whether its seals and dolphins that sleep with alternate hemispheres of their brains asleep, or bears hibernating during the winter. No matter the way the creature sleeps, we know that without sleep it can die. Sleep has got to be something very important.
2. There are two main parts to sleep:
NREM , not random eye movements, or slow wave sleep, or deep sleep, where the brain is less active. Most of sleep is in one aspect of the multiple stages of NREM sleep. The other main part of sleep is REM, rapid eye movement sleep. REM sleep seems to have a lot of dreams. REM sleep makes up about 20% of total sleep time.
SLEEP AS HALF OF THE DAILY DIGESTION CYCLE
My hypothesis suggests that sleep is half of the daily digestion process for humans. Here is a quick summary. The body has a daily digestion cycle that has two parts The first part is the wake phase. The second part is the sleep phase. Then the daily cycle repeats.
During the WAKE phase the person takes in food and breaks it down. This is mostly a phase of catabolic processes that digest the food for that day. This is followed by a SLEEP phase where the food is absorbed and used and the body prepares waste out. This is mostly anabolic processes.
During the first part of the SLEEP phase, the NREM phase, the person replenishes the body with nurturing and other anabolic processes. During the second part of the Sleep phase, the REM phase, the person prepares the body for waste out. Then the person wakes and the cycle repeats.
TWO MAJOR PROBLEM AREAS: WAKE TO SLEEP, AND SLEEP TO WAKE
There are two major problem areas: the transition from wake to sleep, and the transition from sleep to wake. The body makes a major adjustment at both of these times of the day. There may be a lot of unresolved health problems involved in the daily digestion cycle at these two points.
Both of these points have a history of health and sleep problems. Night terrors in deep sleep for one example. This hypothesis suggests that there are many many more unconscious problems associated with these two transition phases that have not been uncovered. These problems are somehow connected to a shift in the body temperature from one phase to the other. Note also that the first transition from wake to sleep, may have the most unconscious problems of the two.
LENGTH OF EACH TRANSITION PHASE
Note that deep sleep has 3 stages. That suggests that the transition from wake to sleep is a major change that comes about in stages. Also note that waking after sleep can happen a number of times before the night’s sleep is completely done. Both of these suggest that the transition phases are evolved, complex, and somewhat difficult for the body to do.
MANY UNDERLYING PROBLEMS OF SLEEP
The digestion cycle pattern is set up in early childhood, and is almost impossible to change from then on. The digestion cycle is most likely based on the breast feeding pattern between the child and the mother. This sets up a food in and waste out pattern that becomes the digestion cycle.
The overall problem to solve then, is that of the digestion cycle with special emphasis on the two transition periods, from wake to sleep and sleep to wake. That problem is resolved by resetting the daily digestion pattern into one that is more healthy.
SLEEP TEMPERATURE NEEDS TO BE CHANGED
My suggestion on how to resolve problems at both deep sleep and waking, are to adjust the body temperature. First we adjust the body temperature, then the body heals.
Preliminary results seem to suggest that there are two periods of body temperature and that these two are opposite, when there is a problem. Either deep sleep temperature is too high AND wake temperature is too low, or vice versa. To resolve, these problems resolve the temperature problems. Healthy adults have deep sleep temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cold, AND wake/day temperatures that are neither too cold or too hot.
Further it seems that the deep sleep temperature is the one we are most consciously aware of. That means that if we feel ‘hot’ too much of the time, our deep sleep temperature – not our waking one – is too hot and too high. That also means that if we feel ‘cold’ too much of the time, our deep sleep temperature – not our waking one – is too cool and too low.
THREE MAIN CLUES
We have three main clues to help determine what the sleep problems are. Therefore when there are sleep problems OR any unresolved or hidden chronic problems, we should check these three things: sleep problems, body weight, and the overall dominant emotion.
1. Sleep Problems.
Check the two transition problem areas connected to sleep; where waking turns to sleep, and sleep turns to wake. Also any problems from lack of sleep or problems during sleep.
2. Weight .
Underweight – deep sleep temperature is too low and wake/day temperature is too high. Person often feels too ‘cold’. To fix and resolve, raise deep sleep body temperature, and lower waking daytime temperature on the subconscious level.
Overweight – deep sleep temperature is too high and wake/day temperature is too low. Person often feels too ‘hot’. To fix and resolve, lower deep sleep body temperature, and raise waking daytime temperature on the subconscious level.
There seems to be a basic emotion connected to the wake to sleep transition, and another to the sleep wake transition.
When ANGER is the dominant emotion or unresolved conflict – look at wake to sleep transition, and deep sleep issues.
When FEAR is the dominant emotion or unresolved conflict – look at sleep to wake transition.
By using these 3 clues the person should begin to open the door on understanding any chronic health and psychological problems they may have.
CONSCIOUS AWARENESS OF HOW THE BODY WORKS, HELPS RESOLVE THE PROBLEMS.
The process of understanding how the daily cycle works, may actually go a long way in resetting the body temperature and resolving the inner conflicts. When the person understands what is causing his problems, the body seems to be more able to adjust the body temperature and resolve the problems.
TWO FACTS THAT SUPPORT THE OVERALL HYPOTHESIS
1. IF sleep is a part of the metabolism cycle, and mainly concerned with processing that days food intake, then for those times when you have fasted, there should be less sleep. We know when we eat a big meal we feel sleepy – that suggests sleep helps process that food. But what about the other way? If we fast do we need less sleep? Doing a quick google of fasting and sleep, I found that that is exactly true. Those that fast need less sleep.
2. IF sleep is part of the metabolism cycle, and mainly concerned with processing that days food intake, then for those times when you eat more you should require more sleep to process that food.Note that after gorging themselves on a kill, lions will often sleep almost continuously for 2 or 3 days.
SLEEP PATTERN SET UP IN CHILDHOOD
The hypothesis suggests that in childhood, a pattern is set up that determines the temperature of each phase of sleep. And that this pattern is highly influenced by the breast-feeding pattern set up between the mother and child. The pattern is very hard to change.
TESTING THE HYPOTHESIS
Test the hypothesis by testing its claims connected to sleep problems, weight problems, and dominant emotions.
Since Darwin’s major discovery, there has been a lot of emphasis on replication: genes, DNA, etc. What there has not been is an equal amount of emphasis on metabolism. This set of ideas opens up that side of the coin.
This quote from Paul Davies well sums up the importance of looking at life as either catabolic or anabolic processes: “There are two paths in investigating the world: the reductionist path and the synthetic path. I would add there are two paths to all life the reductionist path (catabolic) and the synthetic path (anabolic).
The catabolic anabolic split hypothesis may also help explain Cope’s Rule about size increase in evolution.
There was mention above that the crossover points are difficult for the body to do and may cause the most stress. Note this quote “Most deaths, particularly of ill or aged individuals, happen early in the morning when body temperature is at its lowest and the likelihood of REM sleep is highest.” That would be in the sleep to wake phase.
Before, I’ve suggested that a positive mutation on the Catabolic side might spur the Anabolic side to catch up – or vice versa – a positive mutation on the Anabolic side might spur the Catabolic side to catchup. Thus for every positive mutation you have two improvements, and a sort of motor to push natural selection. We have the term ‘arms race’ , this would be a personal ‘arms race’ between the two metabolic processes. But in this arms race, both would be positive changes.
But what about the other way. If there was a negative mutation on the Catabolic side might the Anabolic side be able to sometimes fix or repair or lessen the damage. This should also be true if the mutation was on the anabolic side. Thus one side can help protect the other in cases of a negative mutation. Therefore we have two ways the anabolic catabolic split can help. Positive mutation on one side will help foster a positive mutation on the other. Negative mutation on one side will be lessened by the processes of the other.