deep sleep

“made life without death more than possible — worth living.” Humans' made-infinite lifespan turned out unsustainable without an induced second-order sleep: a deep reset of the biologic clock, an artificial neoteny, “pretty much a rebirth”; before it, the “nature has outsmarted us again” school of thought seemed unassailable (amotivation, irritability, Leaving: “life-weariness syndrome”). Now, deep sleep — a controlled floodwave of forgetting and unlearning, “a thorough cleansing of the psyche,” a “personal time machine” — is no magic cure but (“the nicest bonus from our post-Change self-understanding”) enables a new kind of societal equilibrium: “a good nights sleep wipes away the days troubles.” ■    It all started with brain tweaks that largely ignored the rest of the body — the only concern was preventing atrophy during the weeks and months of brain recuperation (it wasnt quite rejuvenation back then). Modern deep sleep — a self-orchestrating, full-range, whole-body process — hijacks the developmental machinery to run structural invelopment (de-growth but not de-aging): it “reads backwards” the top layers of genome-driven morphogenesis. This only works in absence of significant senescence; in the nervous system, architecture is genetic but much of the networking, esp. in the cortex, is not: remembering and forgetting, accumulation and transformation, complexifying and wear of a living mind — its memory, skills, personality — are in many aspects indistinguishable from senescence; therefore a deep-sleeping brain invelops but peripherally to retain most of its perceptive, motor, emotional, reasoning structures — to preserve the core of individuality. Not intact, though: just as in regular sleep, consciousless brain keeps its patterns alight, rhythmically exercises — strengthens, shifts, streamlines — its networks; a wave of new growth of neurons and axons (similar to prenatal development) dampens and blurs old structures.  ■    Apart from bodily rejuvenation, effects of deep sleep include dissolution (rarely traceless) of some long-term memories just as others (hard to predict which) get solidified and “organicalized”; blurring of the reasoning and behavior patterns that may refocus very differently in the new life; lasting relief for most types of anxiety, depression, addiction; self-reported productivity, concentration, lucider understanding (compare explay), restored creativity and hunger for learning. Whether youre “still the same person” is undecidable: the new you will be recognizable-but-different in both appearance and mind — but so can be your biological child or yourself after many years; call it “a costly delusion of self-perpetuation”: the complex genetic baggage we carry to enable deep sleep may be “the ransom were paying to rid ourselves of the fear of death — but still dying.” ■    No equipment or medication: all you need is a well-lighted, well-ventilated room, plenty of water, and care by someone you love. As with regular sleep, drifting off takes both a conscious choice and physiological readiness — a nagging feeling “hard to describe but impossible to mistake,” often accompanied by an increase in regular nocturnal sleep and dreaming. The whole process takes months; before diving in, many would sign a will — a condensed legacy of this life and a blueprint for the next: the inves to apply during the transformation (when the organism is most malleable), the new lifes childhood itineraries, those entrusted with critical memories to be shared back after awakening (often its a Mind, just like humans bedsit their friend Minds across deep explay). ■    The apparent body age upon waking is anywhere between infancy and puberty — depending both on your genetics and pre-sleep self-tuning. In the first few weeks, wakers are still sleepy (“rebound sleep” as in animals after hibernation), slow, disoriented; it takes a couple months for the age-appropriate skills, including speech and walking, to recover as the new synaptic growth in the brain gets trimmed and shaped. Once the awakened mind catches up with the physiological age of the body, it begins to outpace it, easily relearning or remembering things it knew before — while the waker still looks and behaves like a child. Towards the end of the first year, however, most experience a backslide: the developmental spurt slows down, the body “pulls the mind back to its level”; inherited knowledge goes largely into background to reemerge much later.  ■    The share of those practicing deep sleep may have stabilized but the interval between sleeps keeps shrinking; this might be an addiction (so tempting to relive childhood: slow down time, zoom into the fleeting moments, restretch the shrunken Earth) or just a natural end to the “live all you can” biological imperative — finally the span of a life depends more on its content and completeness than chance. In nuclear families, partners alternate their sleeps to raise and be raised by someone they love; this didnt displace the traditional childbearing (“the urge to bring something new into the world” “is what love is”) that has steadied to balance Leavers and the space drain. Deep sleep does not amount to biological stagnation: the patches applied during a sleep may add up to a greater genetic change than a sexual recombination.  ■    Has the world become too big to be taught to a perfectly new mind? Is the whole first life of a newborn a discardable draft, a rough first run just to get into the groove of living? Childhood, the age of learning, has been stretching ever longer in humans — now it arguably wont fit into a single life; deep sleeps “pre-taught generations” make the boundary between learning and discovery ever blurrier. Can our childhood addiction be so literally indulged in? Are we getting inertial, rigid, fragile because of it? Shouldnt we try to refind our youth without induced shapeshifting — no matter how medecineless?  ■    A still deeper third-order sleep is naturally hypothesized: even with periodic deeps, a millennia-old human might be accumulating bad blood that nothing but a truly radical reconstruction would cure — as different from our deep sleep as the latter is from the circadian one; there may be clues in that direction but the hunch remains unprovable: we havent lived long enough to know.

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