What’s the worst consequence of not getting enough sleep?
In the 1970s, I listened to our UWO Psychology professor lecture about the effects of not sleeping enough. He explained how sleep deprivation leads to dream deprivation. Studies leaned toward the possibility that insufficient dreaming could lead to depression.
Ours was an evening class so we’d all migrate to the cafeteria for a quick break; the prof included. After hearing about the importance of dreaming, when the prof chose a chair across from me, I dared to express the conclusion that haunted me, “So, since we can become depressed when we don’t experience our quota of dreams, can we assume that dreams are the bowel movements of the mind?”
He tried to hide choking on his coffee. He sat grinning as he surveyed the laughter at our table. He finally said, “Well, that certainly is one way of looking at it.”
Over the years, when someone mentioned they were on sleeping pills, I’d casually ask what kind of sleep and dreams they now experienced.
Invariably, they’d say they don’t remember having dreams. Perhaps sleep shifted to a non-dream state. Perhaps dreaming had been curtailed. Perhaps the person simply wasn’t able to remember dreams. Whatever the reason, I’d think of the hilarity in the cafeteria with our professor and silently wonder again about those necessary nightly cleansing jobs.
Then, today, I was gobsmacked by a TED talk. A whole new light shines on the understanding of the nightly housecleaning so diligently undertaken by our brains while we sleep – a possible clue to the dreaded Alzheimer’s Disease.
I’m off to send this post to that professor, “Watch this video, Sir! It may not be dreams, but there IS a mental bowel movement happening!”
Thank you, Dr. Jeff Lliff!