What’s Your Sleep Cycle?

By Charles W. Page, MD –

The 24-hour circadian rhythm of homo sapiens has baffled biologists for years. Sleep is one of those pieces of human behavior that doesn’t seem to fit their evolutionary puzzle. Human beings tend to display monophasic patterns of rest—sleeping for one large continuous time period. This seems to contradict most modern theories of evolution.

When followed to its logical conclusion, evolution appears to suggest that sleep is a bad idea. According to the principles of natural selection, “those that snooze—lose!” If animals are not constantly aware of the potential threats around them, their survival is threatened. And those that do not survive fail to transmit their genes to the next generation.

Several creative theories have been promoted to help explain away this basic dilemma of sleep cycles in “evolved” humans. One maintains that humankind has only been conditioned to rest for a continuous period of the circadian cycle. It contends that man is still intrinsically geared to sleep like their more primordial ancestors and can still be reconditioned back into taking multiple small “cat naps” through the circadian cycle.

One of the champions of the polyphasic theory, Dr. Claudio Stampi, recommends taking multiple intermittent naps during the day instead of sleeping continuously for eight hours at night. His theory claims this pattern allows individuals to maximize their productivity and potential during a 24-hour period. In other words—sleep less and do more. Polyphasic sleeping is an alternative sleep pattern being researched as an option for those who need to function amidst sleep deprivation (i.e., NASA astronauts, long distance sailboat racers and soldiers).

For those of you whose eyelids are still open after absorbing these superfluous and slumberous ideas, let me suggest to you a simpler approach to rest. (One way or another—I did promise to help you sleep!) Instead becoming a polyphasic sleeper to maximize your productivity, why not surrender control to the One who created you? Sleep was God’s idea. God created you to release control of your frustrations, worries, fears and schedules and to fall asleep in His arms. Someone once said that “sleep is God’s contrivance to give to man what he cannot do for himself while he is awake.” By faith, learn to put your trust in a God who protects and provides for you as you rest.

God could have fashioned your circadian rhythms similar to other animals on this planet. For example, God did not create you with the sleeping habits of giraffes or elephants, which slumber for less than four hours per day. You were not created to always be on the alert for potential threats to your security. On the other hand, God did not create you like a bear that hibernates for several months out of the year. Your sleep cycles could have been shaped similar to a dolphin. Dolphins sleep with one-half of their brain “on” and the other side turned “off.” Unlike dolphins, your brain was not created to multitask while you rest.

God uniquely made you to “turn off” when you turn in. God wonderfully made you to surrender your life into His hands. Trust Him. He’s got your back!

About Dr. Charles W. Page

Dr. Charles W. Page is a sleep-deprived surgeon who completed medical school and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He and his wife Joanna live in Texas with their five children. He is the author of Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective. Learn more at: www.surrenderedsleep.com/.

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