The Scientific Approach to Buddhist Study ˇV Human Life Science (IV)
Sleep Duration And The Segmental Sleeping Method
Lecturer/Sun-Don Lee (Leader of the
Napoleon might not be able to afford even four hours
of sleep for a day because he was occupied by the numerous affairs of
the state; however, in an agricultural society most people are
accustomed to starting work at daybreak and retiring at sunset. Once the
society shifted to an industrial society, the western world began a
three "8" system to spare workers from Exploitation. In the
meanwhile, as encouraged by the government, people took for granted the
division of a 24-hour day into an "8 hours of work, 8 hours of
recreation and 8 hours of sleep." For example, "The New Life
Movement", once advocated by the Republic of China in an attempt to
develop into an industrial society as in the west, was actually a
promotion of a disciplined lifestyle based on the three "8"
system. Yet, such a mechanical division brought doubts to people who
were overwhelmed by the hard work as to whether sleep hours are enough
for a day. Since not everyone is a Napoleon, some people develop the
symptom of insomnia due to exhaustion and excessive concern for the lack
of sleep, forming an unhealthy cycle. At the same time, some people may
think that they need not get up so early in the morning that they
usually sleep more than eight hours a day, a habit they form in the
childhood, just like Chu-Ko liang who often woke late in the day, he
wrote in his poem:
"From a long sleep who wakes up first?
What is even more, when someone called Chen-Bo woke up from his sleep, Peng-Tzu (a legendary officer in the reign of Emperor Yao) had already been dead for eight hundred years.
The Most Recent Studies On Sleep Duration
What is the proper amount of sleep after all? Does the amount of sleep have anything to do with our health and life span? Is there any conclusion on "the most proper sleep duration" in todayˇ¦s medical research? Most sleep experts usually suggest people to have at least eight or nine hours of sleep per day. Is such an opinion correct or not?
In the most recent issue of Archives of General
Psychiarty, (D. F. Kripke, et al, Archives of General Psychiatry, 2002,
59, 131-136) there is an article that made a thorough discussion on this
topic. The research mentioned in this article was based upon the Cancer
Prevention Study II of the American Cancer Society, which from 1982 up
to 1988 asked 1.1 million participants about their sleep
duration and frequency of insomnia.
In reference to other likely factors, it was found that woman who reported sleeping 7 hours per night, when compared to those who slept 8, 9 10 hours, experienced lower mortality hazard by 13%, 23%, and 41% respectively, as did men by 12%, 17%, and 34%. In contrast, for women who slept 5 hours, the mortality hazard ratio increased by 5%; while men by 11%. The hazard ratio for men or women who slept only 3 hours per night increased by 19% and 33% respectively. On the average, only 1 out of 1000 people reported a sleep duration of 3 hours; while almost half the participants 8 hours or more.
The study concluded that the lowest mortality hazard ratio was found among participants reporting usual sleep of 7 hours (6.5 ~ 7.4 hours). And sleep duration as short as 4.5 hours per night were associated with morality hazard lower than that of almost half the sample. Professor Kripke from the Department of Psychiatry in the University of California, San Diego said, "The old concept of 8 hours sleep duration for a day is not scientifically grounded!" The increased mortality hazard resulted from longer sleep might be related to "sleep apnea", which would block the patientˇ¦s breathing and impair health.
The 5 ~ 6 Hours Sleep Is The Most Appropriate
Would it be bad to our health for a longer sleeping time? Could the insomnia be good sometimes? Despite our current understanding of sleep and its disorders, todayˇ¦s knowledge on medicine still cannot provide answers to the most fundamental questions, such as why we sleep and what the amount of sleep we need, etc.
As the turning point of human civilization, the Forshang Buddhism states the cultivation that integrates body and mind. As for the questions regarding sleep and sleep duration, please refer to Master Sun-Don Leeˇ¦s instructions to students in the following:
Master: When our energy begins to develop in our cultivation process, we should carefully keep our achievement to go with the causation. For now, the most appropriate sleep duration would be 5.5 ~ 6 hours. A longer sleeping time would make us too relaxed while a shorter sleep would drain our energy. On average, it is enough to sleep 5.5 ~ 6 hours a day.
Student: Master, you mentioned last time that the most appropriate sleep duration is 5 to 6 hours. However, I still feel dizzy after 6 hours sleep.
Master: If you feel dizzy after getting up from a sleep of 5 hours, it is the best time to meditate. Continue to meditate after getting up for two months, and your physical structure will naturally improve!
(Excerpted from Master Sun-Don Leeˇ¦s instruction in the 38th term mental doctrine class on 7/4/95, 7/25/95)
Student: I remember an article that I read before which said that it is best that there is completely no sound or light in sleep or the state of sleep will be otherwise affected.
Master: Mum, that is not correct. I kept the piece of article printed on the 2/15/02 United Daily News which is the translation of a bit of the article in the most recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. It is said in this article that the best sleep duration for human beings is about 5 ~ 7 hours. Those who sleep 8 hours or more have shorter life span. For those who sleep 9 hours or more, the life span will be even shorter. Those who sleep more than 10 hours die even sooner. Did the medical knowledge not tell us that we should sleep 8 or 9 hours a day? That theory on humanˇ¦s sleep duration is actually a serious mistake. This study project covered a long period of time that lasted for seven years with 1 million participants because it is a project that was designed to trace up to oneˇ¦s death, right? It has to trace up to your death to know whether or not you die early. That is why it takes such a very long time and so many participants as it is the biggest study project ever in the history. This study indeed finds out that we really do not need 8 hours sleep and those who do sleep 8 hours are apt to die at a younger age, with a higher mortality hazard risk by 12 ~ 13% when compared to those who sleep 5 ~ 7 hours a day. The longer a person sleeps, the sooner he dies.
I remember that it was seven years ago when many students asked me the problem of not being able to sleep 8 hours a day. Did I not tell them that it is the best to sleep 5 ~ 6 hours, or up to 7 hours at most, right? However, in past few years, even in the past year, some students still asked, "But did the medical study not tell us to sleep 8 hours a day?" The prevailing theory is the three "8" system, with 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation, and 8 hours of sleep. The medical studies in the past few decades were all wrong! I remember that whenever students asked me about this issue, I always tell them the prevailing theory is wrong and humanˇ¦s medical study will eventually prove what I said is right: that we should sleep 5 ~ 7 hours a day; that the sleep of more than 7 hours is not good for our health; that it is even worse if the sleep is longer than 8 hours. The article in the current issue of that particular medical periodical proves my words to be right. This is really the way humans should sleep. It is really not healthy to the body to sleep more than 7 hours.
The New Theory Of Sleep For The Future: The Segmental Sleeping Method
Now, I will speak on the new theory, the segmental sleep! This is again a study no one has ever done, right? It had better that in each segment one sleeps about 2 ~ 4 hours and sleeps twice a day with the segmental sleeping method. This is the best for the body, physical functions, or wisdom in the brain! Within next two years, report on medical studies will again prove what I have said to be true: that humans need segmental sleeps! The segmental sleep is what I have long been doing. I have already put Professor Chou, Sister Shan, Mei-Ting, and Head Professor Yee-Hung Su under training with this sleeping method a long time ago.
With the segmental sleeping method, physically, we can keep our metabolism at its best state. The more we apply the segmental sleeping method, the younger and healthier we get, and the better our skin becomes. Second, mentally, in terms of wisdom in the brain, with the segmental sleeping method our brain cells can be activated to develop complete and active functions. In the beginning we would not get used to this segmental sleeping and might feel very tired. This is because our body has not yet adjusted to the physical state resulted from the segmental sleeping method. However, when getting used to this state, this segmental sleeping method can swiftly revive our vital energy. Yet, since a person would feel very tired in the beginning before physically getting used to this method, he can sleep long hours, say 24 hours, once in every two or three weeks. This is how it works. And, in terms of the brain activities, a person may feel sleepy in the beginning, however, what will come to him? He can wake up quickly and then, what can he do? He can get the control of all the situations immediately, being able to control all the changes right away. This is how it will be later in the training.
That is to say, in the later training stage of the segmental sleeping method, a person would physically develop great ability to adapt himself to changes, and to deal with the outside situations. Mentally, the person would distinguish the subtlety in a changing and chaotic situation. With the segmental sleeping method, it is easier for us to develop both the physical and the mental phenomena of the preliminary spiritual body in our cultivation process. Therefore, the first physical assignment of the preliminary spiritual body is the segmental sleeping. You want to quickly testify that state, you have to take the training of the segmental sleeping method.
Student: Can we replace the segmental sleeping with one or two hours of meditation?
Master: Yes. It would seem very painful in the beginning; however, you just have to get used to it. After that, your body will naturally adjust its functions to fit into that state. Because we are now used to sleeping longer hours, our bodily functions have to adapt to the three hours of sleep. You continue until you are really adjusted to this sleeping method and then you will find out how much benefit can come with it. It really brings great benefits. After that, you will be able to control your biological clock. No matter how tired you are, as long as you tell yourself that you want to get up at a specific time, you wonˇ¦t even need a watch. You may not even know the time of the present moment; however, let me tell you, as long as you tell yourself that you want to get up at a specific time, then I guarantee that you will definitely wake up exactly at that moment. There will be no mistake. This is the way things will turn out to be later on. This is the way I control the time I get up. I do not pay attention to the time I sleep but only to the time I wake up and I will definitely wake up at that time.
Therefore, staying in bed long hours is something unthinkable. You have to get used to it. You know, the longer you sleep, the dizzier you get. It is the best to sleep three hours a time, or an hour longer or shorter. That is, it is the best to sleep 2 ~ 4 hours. That is the best for our bodily functions. Once you get used to this, you will know how powerful this method is. Gradually get used to it. More and more, more and more you will get used to it.
Student: Is this something similar to the afternoon nap that people usually takes?
Master: Afternoon nap? No. Isnˇ¦t the afternoon nap only for an hour usually?ˇ@
Student: Sometimes we listen to the music. Does that matter?
Master: Avoid light that is too bright. It is Okay to listen to the music. As long as you listen to the right music, I think it is Okay. Some classic music, Nine Word Zen sound Dharani, pieces in memory of the Patriarch, are all pretty good, I think. In our experience, as long as you are really tired, no matter how bright or noisy it is, you stay asleep anyway. Right? If you cannot fall asleep, that means you are not tired enough yet!
You will know later on that sleep time is really precious in the preaching. You had better to be able to sleep under any circumstances. If someone is not well trained in this aspect, usually he wonˇ¦t get enough sleep and may easily become irritable, or something, right? The problem is that in the preaching there is no room for oneˇ¦s own temper!
Student: To sleep too much might be harmful, but might it also be harmful if we sleep too little?
Master: Yes. If someone sleeps less than 3 ~ 4 hours a day for quite some time, it is no good. It is considered quite some time if this situation continues for one or two months. However, I know there is a person who has not slept for 39 years. His biggest problem is that he does not know what to do in the middle of the night. Yet, he does not get ill nor tired or something. The medical checkup shows that all his bodily functions are very well. His lifetime expectation is to have the same experience as the other person who also had not slept for 56 years but finally fell asleep one day. This person who has not slept for 39 years is still waiting for that day to come when he will fall asleep as the other person did.
(Excerpted from Master Sun-Don Leeˇ¦s 2/18/02 class instructions)
Due to the distinction between each individual lives, the sleep duration varies. No sleeping at all, as previously mentioned, does not seem to matter that much. However, prolonged insomnia associated with genetic problems may result in death in some people. When animals hibernate for months in winter, it does not seem to be a problem. In order to have a higher achievement in our cultivation, to find out the best physical state for ourselves, to take part in the scientific study of human life, the "segmental sleeping method" brought out by Master Sun-Don Lee deserves an experimentation from us.
1. D. F. Kripke, L. Garfinkle, D. L. Wingard, M. R. Klauber, and M. R. Marler, Archives of General Psychiatry, 2002, 59, 131-136; D, J, Buysse, ibid, 2002, 59, 136-137.ˇ@