Wikipedia has become the Encyclopedia Brittanica of our generation. Google almost any topic you can think of, and you’ll find page after page of Wikipedia data to tantalize your research-hungry senses. In fact, we challenge you to identify a topic that isn’t covered in one of Wikipedia’s more than 40 million articles! It’s practically impossible.
And, researching into the mysteries of sleep is no different. You can access information about sleep in humans, sleep in non humans, sleep disorders, insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, dreams, consciousness, higher consciousness, Western esotericism….and so we begin our descent down the rabbit hole that is Wikipedia. It happens in an instant, but, yet, suddenly you’ve read 62 and a half articles and somehow found your way into a list of inventors killed by their own inventions. (If you’re intrigued or looking for a laugh, check out this very entertaining Buzzfeed post.)
But, though it may seem blasphemous to say this, Wikipedia isn’t the authority on sleep information. You gasp. “What! How can that possibly be?”
Keep reading to find out what Wikipedia can’t tell you about sleep.
Not long ago, I took a yoga class where the teacher told us a story of overhearing a conversation between two women. One of the women stated with pride and admiration how her yoga teacher knew her body better than she knew it herself. My teacher explained that while the compliment, of course, was well-intended, no one can know your body better than you do. You’re the only person inside of your body–you’re the only person who can truly determine when you’re about to push yourself too far when you have a bit more to give, what feels good to you, or what feels bad.
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That same yoga teacher would also often tell us after giving instructions for a posture not to listen to her, at least not blindly–that we should make the decisions for ourselves and how we’re feeling in that moment. (Did I mention she’s a highly respected yogi who has attained the highest professional accolades and has been teaching since 1972?) If she doesn’t trust that her instructions are correct, then whose instruction should we follow?
Of course, the answer is our own.
All the research, knowledge, and expertise in the world can’t act as a substitute for the type of information that you possess by merely being the inhabitant of your body. This human vessel that we occupy will walk 216,262,500 steps in this lifetime. It will take 672,768,000 breaths. It will sleep for 9,125 nights. Your body serves you well…in turn, wouldn’t it only make sense to listen to its quiet commands?
If you’ve read any of our articles, we usually urge our readers to make their own decisions, follow their intuition, listen to their bodies. If 8 hours of sleep a night feels like too much for you, no expert in the world should be able to convince you that it’s not. If sleeping on your back feels forced and miserable, ignore our advice! You are the only person who knows what you need, and if you quiet down a bit and listen, you’ll be able to hear its message loud and clear. Wikipedia not required.
What is your body telling you right now?