What is sleep, and is it possible that we might change our sleep patterns to reduce the number if hours of sleep we need? All animals including humans need sleep. For a period of time during each twenty four hours every living creature must spend more time in a state of sleep. During this time, the bodily functions slow down and the individual “loses consciousness” or becomes unaware of noise or movement. The amount of sleep we need varies from species to species and even from individual to individual. Different people need different amounts of sleep, from 1 1/2 hours a day to 12 hours a day, but it appears that most normal adults need an average of 7 1/2 hours a day. The need for sleep also changes according to age: babies need more sleep than most adults and as we get older we need less sleep. In any case, we spend a lot of our time sleeping or feeling tired if we don’t get enough sleep. Many people feel that sleeping 7 or 8 hours a day is a waste of time. It would be nice if we could limit the amount of sleep we need to only a couple of hours a day so we would have more time to do the things we enjoy or to make money. Leonardo da Vinci, who was a very productive individual, seemed to find the secret for gaining more hours in the day. He discovered that if he behaved more like a baby or a cat, that is, taking “catnaps” throughout the day for short periods of time instead of sleeping for one long period of many hours, he was able to stay alert and continue his work. In the way he reduced his sleeping time to 90 minutes during 24 hours.
Dr. Stampje, a doctor who became interested in da Vinci’s ability to reduce his need for sleep, conducted some experiments on some volunteers to see if it was possible to continue this method of sleeping for a long period of time. His experiments lasted for two months and he found that it was possible to reduce the number of sleeping hours and still stay healthy and alert. But he only experimented on two