Sleep is a part of a person’s daily activity cycle. There are several different stages of sleep, and they too occur in cycles. If you are an average sleeper, your sleep cycle is as follows. When you first drift off into slumber, your eyes will roll about a bit, and your temperature will drop slightly, your muscles will relax, and your breathing will slow and become quite regular. Your brain waves slow down a bit too, with the alpha rhythm of rather fast waves predominating for the first few minutes. This is called stage 1 sleep. For the next half hour or so, as you relax more and more, you will drift down through stage 2 and stage 3 sleep. The lower your stage of sleep, the slower your brain waves will be. Then about 40 to 60 minutes after you lose consciousness you will have reached the deepest sleep of all. Your brain waves will show the large slow waves that are known as the delta rhythm. This is stage 4 sleep.
You do not remain at this deep fourth stage all night long, but instead about 80 minutes after you fall into slumber, your brain activity level will increase again slightly. The delta rhythm will disappear, to be replaced by the activity pattern of brain waves. Your eyes will begin to dart around under your closed eyelids. This period of rapid eye movement lasts for some 8 to 15 minutes and is called REM sleep. It is during REM sleep period that your body will soon relax again, your breathing will grow slow and regular once more, and you will slip gently back from stage 1 to stage 4 sleep — only to rise once again to the surface of near consciousness some 80 minutes later.
Face and Fortune
Recently, at the instigation of my publisher, I had some photographs taken. I do not enjoy the process of being photographed. However, after I compared the new photograph with one taken twenty-five years ago, my feminine vanity suffered. My first instinct was to have the prints “touched up”. As I thoughtfully considered the photographs, I knew that a still more important principle was involved.
A quarter century of living should put a great deal into a woman’s face besides a few wrinkles and some unwelcome folds around the chin. In that length of time she has become intimately acquainted with pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, life and death. She has struggled and survived, failed and succeeded. She has lost and regained faith. And, as a result, she would be wiser, gentler, more patient and more tolerant than she was when she was young. Her sense of humor should have mellowed, her outlook should have widened, and her sympathies should have deepened. And all this should show. If she tries to erase the imprint of age, she runs the risk of destroying, at the same time, the imprint of experience and character.
I know I am more experienced than I was a quarter century ago and I hope I have more character. I released the pictures as they were.
Readers Reveal Stuff of Dreams
Psychologists have confirmed what writers have always believed: that books are literally the stuff of dreams. A survey has confirmed that readers of Iris Murdoch or JK Rowling are more likely to have bizarre dreams than people deep into a history of the crusades. People with a taste for fiction experienced dreams that contained more improbable events, and their dreams were more emotionally intense. The survey also found that people who read thrillers were no more likely to have nightmares. But those with a weakness for science fiction were rather more likely to wake up suddenly with a cold sweat. According to Mark Blagrove of the University of Wales, the study is perhaps the first experiment to determine a link between the waking world and dreams. Dr. Blagrove and colleagues distributed 100,000 questionnaires about sleep patterns and literary tastes, and got more than 10,000 replies. They found that 58% of all adults had experienced at least one dream in which they were aware they were dreaming — and that women could recall more dreams than men. Older people seemed to dream less and have fewer nightmares. About 44% of children said their dreams were affected by the books they had been reading. Children who report reading scary books have three times the number of nightmares as children who don’t.