President Barack Obama relieved Gen. Stanley McChrystal from his Afghanistan command after a Rolling Stone article reported his and his aides' hostile and insubordinate remarks toward many civilian leaders. Checking his daily habits of sleeping only three-four hours, running about 14 miles and eating only one meal, I realized that McChrystal shortchanged his well-being. If he wasn't physically exhausted, he had to be mentally stretched.
Psychological research has concluded that humans should sleep eight hours daily; some are OK with a bit less. Sleeping properly promotes physical and mental health. Many who sleep haphazardly think they're fine, but they are not at their fittest. McChrystal's poor sleep habit helps to explain his arrogant, reckless behavior. The Army told us GIs in Korea that four hours of sleep a day was sufficient for us to do our job if we could get it; but what about generals, who are the brains behind operations?
Sleeping is of two forms: (1) no rapid eye movement (NREM) when there is no eye movement and brain activity. The body relaxes as breathing and heart rate decrease markedly, and there's little dreaming; (2) rapid eye movement (REM) when the brain is wide awake and more active than wakefulness. The body is paralyzed except for essential functions, such as breathing. As the mind reviews and sorts out problems and seeks resolution, neurons in the brain discharge with the side effect of fanciful and illogical dreaming. That's why we often go to bed with troubles and awake after a good night's rest with solutions. Four to five waves cycle between NREM to REM during eight hours of sleep. NREM fulfills physiological restoration and REM provides psychological restoration. It's wise to maintain a daily routine of regular, full night's sleep.
Al Yee, Missoula