07 October, 2020

Why I Value Sleep

From the now defunct study-hack site.

I've always highly valued sleep. On the EA Forum, I've argued that sleep should be prioritized. I've always enjoyed the dozen or so seconds after I first wake, when my brain continues to filter out all sounds, sleep-paralysis-style. My dream worlds never cease to fascinate me. More than half of the times I go to sleep, I find myself dreaming lucidly, and I almost always enjoy it. I've even taken the time to attempt experiments in my lucid dreams, to see whether I can do meaningful work while asleep.

When listening to others describe their lives, I have always been surprised that no one seems to value sleep nearly as much as I do. Is it just because they are more focused on earning money? Or accomplishing value in the real world? Maybe it is because they don't have lucid dreams at all. Maybe they can't even remember their dreams. These are all increasingly good explanations, but it was only recently that I realized why I in particular might be overvaluing my dreams in particular.

I have aphantasia, which means I cannot visualize things in my daily waking life. But, in my dreams, I can visualize spectacularly well. I can direct my dreams in all kinds of ways, and I can experience them visually. For me, this is a unique experience that I never have while I am awake. But I only just realized recently that my everyday lived visual experience was radically different from others', and so I never fully understood why, to me, the experience of dream worlds felt so very real. Yet now it is obvious: for others, it is no big deal that they can visualize in their dreams; whereas, for me, it is a uniquely real-feeling experience that I can resume and direct each night on demand.

Of course I value dreams (and therefore sleep) so much more than most people. It feels so obvious now, in retrospect. But this was something that I've thought about for decades and have only just now understood.

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