Information about sleep — Robin Wils's website

Last modified: Mon, Oct 4, 2021

Table of Contents

Sleeping

Your health is likely more important than most other things if you want to live long. Sleep seems important for your health, but much of the information about sleep seems like nonsense. How much of it is true?

A cat sleeping. The act has a tired facial expression.

Sleeping positions

Many “research” around this topic does not link any sources. The internet seems to contain a lot of articles which are likely just made for marketing. One of the “better” sources I found about sleeping positions is from Sleep Foundation. It at leasts links to research papers.

Ok, maybe it isn’t a trustworthy source

It is a non-profit, so might be made because of marketing for beds, and the following search results in opinion-based “scientific” articles. I think that people don’t know much about sleep yet, but let’s see what the site says. It has some interesting information.

Searching for 'dreaming' displays 'Here is what dreaming about your ex could mean' and 'Here is what dreams about your teeth falling out mean'. This seems very opinion-based.

Sleeping position

Sleeping on your side or on your back seem like the best positions, but it depends on what you see as best. Most articles I found tend to claim that other positions are often harmful for your health, but I am highly skeptical when it comes to information about sleep.

Sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your side can help for backpain. It promotes good spinal alignment, and can reduce snoring. The cons are that it can give you shoulder pain, and that it can contribute to facial wrinkles. Sleeping on your left side is better than sleeping on your right side. Sleeping on your right side may increase pressure on your internal organs.

Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back can be good if you want to avoid neck pain. It can be better if you have a stuffy nose. The cons are that it is a bad position for people who snore. It also increases your chances on sleep paralysis.

But is snoring bad?

Snoring, especially if it’s associated with gasps and snorts and pauses, is a sign of a common disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep Foundaion has an article about it.

Maybe Sleep Foundation is right?

What is the best sleep position? - What I've Learned

Maybe it isn’t right?

While I usually find the content of the channel “What I’ve Learned” pretty excellent and trustworthy. He seemed to be skeptical about the sleep science as well.

I discovered this link which debunks the “Why We Sleep” book.

Opinion

I attempt to always sleep on my left side. Skipping sleep is probably way worse for your health than your position. There might be healthy ways to sleep in a different position. Temparatures around eighteen degrees celsius are a good sleeping environment according to Sleep Foundation.

It is funny that most results you find about sleeping link no sources, and claim that sleeping on your back is the way to go. Sleeping on your side seems better on first sight in my opinion. I would consider sleeping on my back, on the floor in some situations though.

The sleeping floor

Sleeping on the floor could be a fun thing to try out if you sleep on your back. Not the raw floor, but the floor with some pillows and a carpet, or something alike. It costs less space, and some people claim that it makes their back feel better. See what works for you.

Blue light

Some people claim that blue light is nonsense, but I think that you will understand the basics of the science behind it by just reading about it or by watching the following video.

What blue light does to your body
What red light does to your body - What I've Learned

Studies behind blue light

Studies by Harvard Health Publishing and France’s ANSES found that exposure to blue light has a negative effect on sleep and can lead to impaired vision. I couldn’t find a link to the research papers from those studies though.

Sleep Foundation has an article about blue light. It has sources, just like all their other articles. It does not mean that the linked sources are automatically good though. The best solution is to just turn the devices off according to them, but blue light filters, and dimming your screen tends to help.

Dangerous?

I wouldn’t call blue light dangerous. It just can keep you awake. It has positive effects too. Blue light filters can be used as a marketing tactic, but it can work. It seems to work for me, but I do set the temperature high, which makes my screen look very red. I find it relaxing.

Sleep cycles

I think that sleep cycles are nonsense and not nonsense at the same time. REM sleep is important, but the need for getting eight hours of sleep seems like nonsense. Many people sleep less. It could depend on the person. I would think that alcohol and caffeine would be worse. Avoid those for good sleep.

Eight hours

Are eight hours of sleep really needed? Doctor Mike Hansen thinks it is a good idea to get as much sleep. Other sources think otherwise. His videos explain things well. I don’t know how trustworthy his channel is yet, but it seems alright. Sleep Foundation claims that at least seven hours of sleep is needed.

REM sleep - How much sleep do you need?

No good evidence?

According to Lieberman’s book “Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy And Rewarding” there is no good evidence that humans need to sleep eight hours per night. I haven’t read the book, but I am interested. Nicole Barbaro’s site mentions books about psychology which seem interesting. The book by Lieberman is in that list.

The book “Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine” is seen as a standard book to read about sleep according to Sleep Cycle, but it is a website for a application which tracks your sleep, so they likely won’t mention the “bad stuff”.

History

People used to sleep more than once in the past for a short duration. It is still common for animals. People used to do interrupted sleep before the Industrial Revolution. People also didn’t live as long though. Science and medicine wasn’t as far as it is now.

Bi-Modal sleep

There is quite a lot of not often mentioned research about Bi-Model sleep. Most references seem recent. It doesn’t seems to have much criticism, and the papers seem somewhat recent. Roger Ekirch is a name which often pops up.

Opinion

It isn’t easy to find good sources about sleep. It is hard to not follow the “sleep once a night for a long period” norm. People expect you to be awake during specific times of the day. Many people have tried different sleep cycles, including many succesful people. Their health seems fine.

I would claim that the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink before sleep can have a way bigger effect on sleep. We already know that those drugs are bad for your health as well.

Conclusion

People don’t seem to know much about sleeping habits yet, but it is an interesting topic to read about. The book from Lieberman seems interesting on first sight. It wouldn’t hurt to read things about sleep if sleep is as important as people say. I would be highly skeptical about most information related to sleep though.