Because all experiences are valuable.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mr. Sandman...Bring Me a Dream....

I'm not sure how much I have to say on this subject, although it is huge and varied in all its aspects. Sleep. But I only want to talk about one specific conversation that Reid and I had earlier.

Some time ago I read the book,  Power Sleep, and learned double what I had known before I read it- about human sleep, REM, dreams, and all such. I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Maas speak at a convention, but I went shopping instead- a really bad move, but it motivated me to read my free copy of the book! It revolutionized my thoughts, if not my actual actions, in relation to sleep. Sadly, I am still as I was apparently created, a night owl.

Reid was doing hours of homework after hours of drumline rehearsal after hours of school. He said, as he has said before, how much more productive the human organism would be if it did not require sleep at all, or very little. We have all heard stories of geniuses (geniusi? haha) like Albert Einstein who needed very little sleep. Heck, even Martha Stewart is famed for needing only about 4.5 hrs of sleep a night. I understand the idea he is postulating, and many others think the same way. Taking a minute to ruminate, though, I decided to oppose his thought process with one of my own.

I believe humanity and the entire planet we live on would be in an almost unquantifiably better situation if the human organism were designed to simply shut itself off for eight hours a day. I'm sure we would genetically adapt to different needs for scheduling, so I'm just focusing on why I think as I do.

First, I point out that sleep deprivation is damaging and expensive. How many accidents, errors, losses of goods and money and investments, could be avoided? How much less could we all spend on insurance and buying overpriced goods and services to make up for the losses due to simple tiredness. I want to make these statements sort of open-ended and let you add your own internal insights to each one.

Second, I bring up that Americans and most of the rest of the world following us, are fat. Overweight and exhausted. A huge reason people eat so continually during the day is because they need the constant input of energy. If everyone got eight hours of sleep a day or night, I would bet my life that obesity rates would plummet. So, add in all the billions of dollars spent on health-related issues from being overweight, complications, and the billions spent on the weight-loss industry. All those extra resources could go to finding cures for diseases like diabetes and hypothyroidism and things that cause people to suffer which they can't control. What a waste...for what simple sleep would vastly ameliorate for a large percentage of the population.

Third, a natural progression then is how much farther the food we produce would go if people ate less, due to less exhaustion, and also due to fewer hours available to be awake mindlessly eating. People eat when they are bored. More sleep=less boredom, more energy to do things, etc. Which would mean the incredible stress on our planet from massive industrial food conglomerate overproduction could cease or be lessened. We might even save the bees, who are all dying from stress and colony collapse disorder. You do realize life as we know it is going to change dramatically if we can't save the bees? And at this point- we don't really have a clue how to do this. You know what? They need sleep! And we don't let them have it, because...we are too busy being exhausted!

Fourth, how much less energy would we use as a whole in all those hours we were asleep, even without any major change in habits? Say we were all still bad and left our power bars on and everything plugged in on standby...still, we would be using so much less. Unimaginable the savings. How much less gas in the hours we weren't driving around...because we were asleep? How much less energy spent on the food growth, processing, and production in relation to all the above?

Fifth, I will add in...frankly, how many fewer children born because there are fewer hours for people to be having sex which might result in children? Maybe people would realize they could only handle enough children to make zero population growth, because there would be "fewer hours in the day."  So, therefore...fewer people using less energy and eating less food and requiring fewer resources. With no bizarre measures or quotas to control population growth...just simple sleep!

Sixth, how much depression and mental illness is brought on by lack of sleep, by our outrageous lifestyles wherein we literally starve our brains of what they simply MUST have. Sleep deprivation is one of the very top and most common forms of Torture! Sleep deprivation is against the laws of most countries and the Geneva Convention. We actually choose to torture ourselves. How much is spent by us on stimulants, energy drinks, etc. Meds for depression, SSRIs, therapy, mental hospitals on and on and on. What if we all just slept?? The there would be so may more resources available to treat the real problems people have. Sleep deprivation can bring out aggression. I wonder if fewer crimes, road rage, even rapes would occur...if no one were overly tired.

I think you get the picture I'm painting, and you can add your own thoughts. Please comment if you have any good ones I haven't even thought of here. I'm going to begin a concerted effort to sleep more. So, goodnight, lovely readers. Sweet dreams.


  1. Wow, looks like Frank doesn't sleep at all! As for me, I'm a proponent of human hibernation...I've read about places in France where they sleep all winter, do next to nothing and consume a lot less as a result, just as you postulate. Then of course, there's dead...now that's efficient. Did I ever tell you how much I love to sleep, especially falling into it?

  2. The only point I would argue would be the number of children decreasing. If indeed we spent more time in bed it seems only natural that one thing would lead to another...which we have pretty much figured out lead to more children. Without the distractions of the TV, computer or phone in the bedroom this would only help to increase "another". But we would also sleep better as good sex leads to good sleep (at least that has been my experience).

  3. Hi Lucky D! You're probably right on that one. It was just a thought. Hey, this is your first comment- you get like a special gold star or something. Looking forward to seeing you on Sat.!

    @WM- I've never heard of that! Maybe I could go to France, see the super collider, eat some croissants and jam, then hibernate. That sounds like bliss.

    @Frank, "fearfully delusional" I just reread and noticed that line. I like that. I'm going to add that to my store of knowledge.

  4. See, I've always been a sleep addict...in most cases, at the very least an avid lover of sleep. I still am. But I've worked night shifts and day shifts and radically seen the way sleep affects my life. A great deal of people don't get to do that, but to think of sleep deprivation as a form of self-abuse and self-torture...I wonder if this goes deeper psychologically than we've even thought about.

  5. I agree that sleep is essential and that this planet would benefit from more rest and less unwanted children....great points.