Volume 13, Number 11
28 November

Click, to go back to the contents of this issue

This Week

We appreciate feedback from our readers
Browse through the collecton of older issues



Eek! For the first time in my life, in my 22nd year on the earth, I have one white hair on my head! I of course, would not have realized this or felt upset if I had seen that one white hair. But my friend saw that hair and told me and all I remember is that I screamed. (If you have not found my column interesting up to now, you will today because I have something of interest for almost everyone.)

This one white hair was (I plucked it from my head so it is no longer there) the result of sleepless nights and hard days. I may be making a big deal but firsts are important and a white hair for a 22-year-old girl is important too. No matter how much I try to be a well-organized, well-prepared person and avoid being a "last minute person," I can't help but become a sleepless zombie who walks to campus in anger with half closed eyes. I wish a day had more than 24 hours. I wish my body and my brain would not need to sleep.

But 24 hours is not enough. You should sleep. After little sleep my system gives me signals. Coffee may not work after a while. Caffeine is not the jolt I needed to feel alert. Nor do eating something or washing my face provide that jolt. You can't fight sleeping forever. Show a white flag, hug your pillow, wrap up in a blanket, empty your mind and close your eyes. Sleeping is so important that I am going to write about it for the next two weeks. I did some research; I hope you find it interesting…

Stages of Sleeping

Sleeping occurs in stages. Our brain tells us how to sleep. There are five different stages. In the first stage your brain gives signals to your muscles to relax, to your heart to beat slower and your body temperature drops. In the second stage you are in light sleep, which you may easily wake up from if you hear a noise and you may react to things going around you. The third stage is referred to as slow-wave sleep. Your blood pressure becomes lower, and then you may lose your senses and not feel the temperature around you. It is hard to wake up in this stage of sleep. If you are a sleepwalker or sleep talker you may become active in this stage. In the fourth stage of sleep it becomes very difficult to wake up. If someone wakes you up, it will require a few minutes to connect to the world and events around you. REM sleep is the fifth stage and stands for Rapid Eye Movement. In this stage your muscles are totally relaxed. Your heart beats faster and you begin to breathe regularly. You also begin to dream in REM sleep. During sleep you repeat these stages every 90 minutes.
Talking about dreams is another story. Do not say that you don't dream. Everybody dreams, but not everyone remembers his or her dreams. If someone wakes you up during the REM stage you might remember everything about your dream. But if you wake up to an alarm, then it is hard to remember the dream. However, objects may help you, if you saw a newspaper in your dream, when you read the Bilkent News you might remember your dream. Some claim that dreams are an opportunity for our brain to keep working. Others say that dreams help you to sort the events of that day. And as for Freud, dreams are clues to what you pushed deep inside your brain, such as what you worry or think about.

Following are some tips to help you fall asleep quickly. You may be very sleepy but sleepiness is not enough to make you fall asleep. Once your daily routine has changed, it becomes more difficult to fall asleep. Go to bed at the same time if possible (I know it is hard for a student). Follow a bedtime routine, reading something; taking a warm bath or counting the ships in your head like we did when we were children. Avoid things that contain caffeine. Do not drink coffee up to four hours before you sleep. Do not exercise before you go to bed, as it will give you energy; try to exercise earlier in the day. Use your bed for sleeping not writing homework, or playing games. Teach your body to associate sleeping with your bed. Also, before going to bed read your notes or study for exams so your brain can restore the information when you sleep. This works for me.

It is not scientifically proven why we sleep. All that we know is that sleeping is a building process for mind and body. Sleeping allows the body and brain to collect energy. We spend all day thinking and creating, and that uses up our energy stores. In this episode of my column I hope I reintroduced you to something that we have been used to from the first day of our lives.

Gülay Acar (COMD/IV)

 Click, to go back to the contents of this issue

Bilkent News Welcomes Feedback From Readers.
This newsletter will print letters received from readers.
Please submit your letters to bilnews@bilkent.edu.tr
or to the Communications Unit, Engineering Building, room EG-23, ext. 1487.
The Editorial Board will review the letters and print according to available space.