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Sleeping Trees Serve as Solid Role Models

Aug 31 treeFeeling a little droopy at the end of the day? So do the trees outside your window, says new research conducted by scientists in Austria, Hungary and Finland. According to a recent study performed by the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, entire trees have been found to droop at night — as much as 4 inches — which researchers have likened to sleep.

Apparently, even plant life gets tired.

Why Do Trees Need Sleep?

Scientists believe that trees, not unlike people, respond to circadian rhythms, meaning they adjust their daily routines in accordance with sunlight. Tree blossoms often open in the morning and close at night in a practice that simulates “waking up” and “going to sleep.” And the scientists who performed the laser studies on trees in Austria, Finland and Hungary found that, in the sleeping trees, branches returned to their former, perkier positions just before sunrise each day.

Could it be that your flowering dogwood needs a short respite from the trials of the day just as much as you do?

Understanding the Science of Trees

tree in field.jpgWhile scientists now know that tree branches droop after the sun goes down, they’re still not sure why this happens. One theory is that there’s a drop in water pressure inside the tree because it’s no longer photosynthesizing from the sunlight. Another theory is that it happens to help the tree reserve energy. What we do know is that trees need sunlight to survive and thrive and that it’s the leaves attached to the tree branch that absorbs the sunlight and turns it into lifesaving energy for the tree.

Sounds like a big job. No wonder trees get tired.

What This Means for Us

If you’ve ever needed more evidence regarding the importance of sleep, take a lesson from Mother Nature. Even trees need time to rest, relax and rebuild after the stress of the day, and they don’t have the hassles of that early morning commute. How much more important must sleep be to humans? Very important, says the National Institutes of Health. Sleep helps your brain function well, encourages your body to heal, helps you process and assimilate information, gives you energy and most importantly — makes you feel good. You need a minimum of at least 8 hours of sleep each night to help your mind, body and emotions function properly. Otherwise, you may start feeling the burn in bad ways:

    • Too little sleep over an extended period of time can contribute to a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
    • Sleep deprivation causes slowed reaction times throughout the day.
    • Not getting enough sleep daily can make you feel sluggish, tired and depressed.
    • Sleep deprivation can make you lose interest in sex, make you gain weight and cause you to forget information that you would otherwise retain.

So the next time you’re tempted to stay up all night reading, playing games or browsing on your computer, take a lesson from the night time trees and turn in instead. You’ll look and feel better tomorrow. Your blossoms will open, your branches perk up and your leaves unfold — all because you took the time to sleep.

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