A Third Of Life written by Paul Martin PhD in behavioral biology is written to showcase for readers the nature of sleep from a biological standpoint and the lack of current understanding on the topic. Paul explains that sleep is a form of behavior natural to all complex living organisms in which we humans will unavoidably spend a third of our lives.
According to the essay much of the industrialized societies do not get a proper amount of sleep in our daily lives which can cause devastating effects on our personal lives, mental and physical health, and work performance. This is presumably because of our 24-hour society model. Paul points out that in our modern society sleep is viewed as “one of the least productive of all human activities” while being busy is sign of status and importance. Though our bodies are biologically designed to sleep on a 24 hour cycle, many times sleep is not a priority.
Paul emphasizes that the knowledge for such a major part of our lives has been unjustly neglected claiming we as a society are too familiar and very apathetic to this part of our lives. Even in modern medicine, teachings on sleep and sleep disorders are given only an average of 15 minutes, making doctors ill equipped to understand the true benefits and consequences of proper or improper amounts of sleep. Furthermore, this blind eye is shown in sleep’s absence from most of our modern writings. Whereas in history before the electric light bulb and 24-hour society, literature featured much more insinuations of sleep. Paul argues that though there is not an exact knowledge of the extent of sleep deprivation in society, scientists alike agree that sleepiness is a major cause of accidents and injuries.
Paul drives home the necessity of his message by pointing out that “sleep is an active state generated within the brain, not mere unconsciousness” giving light to the undiscovered amount of potential nourishment sleep may provide. The article firmly rests on the universality of sleep among all complex living organisms. The charecteristics that define sleep are stated as “a special sleeping space and posture, prolonged immobility, a selective and rapidly reversible reduction in responsiveness to stimuli, and a 24-hour
Sleep is such an imperative to our bodies that evolution has evolved ways of making sleeping possible even in the course of daunting hurdles. In the case of dolphins, who are air breathing mammals half sleep is the answer. Half sleep or unihemispheric sleep is when one hemisphere of the brain goes into deep sleep while the other remains awake. This enables the dolphin to sleep underwater without asphyxiating.
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