100 Watts : going, going, yawn

The subject of my column this week was sleep and how undervalued it has become as everything around us speeds up.

You can read it here:

V11N29P04.pdf
Download this file

The commodification of time seems to be having some ill effects on society at large, but more importantly our health.

The Globe & Mail had an excellent article on it here:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/conditions/health-sleep…

I found the article to be very revealing, from the effects of both long and short term sleep deprivation on the body, the fact that a hamster kept awake for three days will die, how the body clock works and why sleep is so important.

Jeremy Campbell’s book “Winston Churchill’s Afternoon Nap” :
http://www.amazon.com/Winston-Churchills-Afternoon-Jeremy-Campbell/dp/0671657178

offers additional insight into the matter of the body clock.  It is a fantastic read, and leads me to agree with Wilson Mizener, who stated his belief that “The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.”

So who are the “heroes” when it comes to sleep?

David Dinges, chief of the division of sleep and chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, points out that high-achieving figures like Einstein & Albert Schweitzer got their sleep.

Where heroic non-sleepers like J.F.K., Napoleon, Ronald Reagan, & Bill Clinton were nappers, or took sleeping pills to adjust their body clocks.

It is pointed out that Winston Churchill survived his famous midnight meetings by climbing into bed for an hour every single afternoon, hence the name of Jeremy Campbell’s book.

If there is one key message to take away from the Globe&Mail article, or the example provided by one of my friends in my own article it is that:

“We live under the enduring spell of The Warrior Who Does Not Sleep, believing that many accomplished people survive on no more than 4.5 hours of “core sleep” a night. It’s a myth.”

Another worthwhile read is James Gleick’s book “Faster” : http://www.fasterbook.com/index.html

In it he references a so-called “Russian sleep machine” could save a person six hours a day by sending a gentle, sleep-intensifying electric current through the brain. “In two hours the brain’s owner has had a full night’s sleep”

Wow, 50 years later one can see this making a comeback.

It could be advertised with The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday playing in the background.

“There’s no time to lose I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.”

 


If you’re still not convinced that time is a constant, and that it applies to you than you need to know that sleeplessness has been identified as a factor in an endless list of afflictions, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, memory loss, bipolar disorder, reduced immunity, mood swings, impaired carbohydrate metabolism and increased heart-rate variability.

Not to mention depression and substance abuse and the impairment of memory, self-expression and the ability to read emotions in others. Oh, and a hundred thousand motor-vehicle accidents a year.

As reported in a recent New York Times article ( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sleep-t.html?_r=1 )

“the sleep-deprived among us are lousy judges of our own sleep needs. We are not nearly as sharp as we think we are.”

There may be no medal waiting for you upon waking after a night of rejuvenating sleep, so if you are looking for accolades on how little sleep you are getting I suppose you can always opt to sleep when you’re dead….which, by my clock should be any day now.

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