Monday, April 17, 2017

What Americans Really Want

To judge from the deluge of ads I see every day for the latest high-tech mattress, the huge market in sleeping pills, and the burgeoning array of electronic devices designed to help, what Americans really want more of is sound sleep. To confirm this, the 'Most Viewed" story in the Times this morning is How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Everyone I know who complains of not being able to get enough sleep is the victim of their jobs.

A big part of it is the regularity of your schedule. For a lot of lower-class employees, it's not remotely unusual to work late one day, then have to go in early the next, over and over. When you spend all week flip flopping between waking up at 3AM and waking up at 11AM, it's hard to fall asleep when you need to, and hard to get quality sleep.

Tp compound the issue, often people only get a legally mandated minimum of eight hours between shifts, which sadly is just not enough - you still need to commute, eat a meal, spend a least a short time with loved ones, take a shower, et cetera, all of which eats into that time, meaning fewer than six hours of sleep each night is typical for millions of people.

Then there's the issue of sick days. A lot of folks end up forcing themselves to work when they really should be home in bed resting, because they'll lose their jobs if they have too many outs due to sickness. The mentality in America is to pop a handful of pills, choke down some coffee or other stimulants, and just work through the pain as best you can.

And if you absolutely have to call out, then you need to be back in as soon as possible. Which means people who are incompletely recovered are back at work, acting like they're operating at 100% when they're still only about 50% of the way there, and resuming their awful schedules and not getting enough sleep.

Sleep debt is a massive, massive problem for millions of Americans - most of whom are ignorant of the issue. They seem to think that only the previous 24 hours applies - that if they got a full 8 hours last night they should be fully rested, even if they spent the past week straight getting only 4 hours a night.

The reality is that the effects of too little sleep accumulate over time, and remain with you. It takes more than just one good night's sleep to undo the damage. You have to keep getting good nights of sleep, and possibly even extra sleep. It's like recovering from starvation - you have to make up for lost assets, not just level out.