Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sleep: Another Offering to Mammon

One of the research stories highlighted in Discover Magazine this month was about "Social Jet Lag," a fancy name for the irregular sleep pattern common among young adults who work hard and lack for sleep all week, then stay up late and sleep late on weekends. The story reports that irregular sleep patterns are associated with obesity and higher rates of diabetes. Shift work is another culprit, but even slightly shifted sleep patterns can impact your pancreatic function.

My mom didn't need any scientific study to know that a good night's sleep was essential to my health and well being. Regular sleep patterns are natural for humans. Why not go to bed with the darkness and wake with the light? Don't you feel better after a good night's sleep? More alert, more energetic? You catch fewer colds when you get regular sleep. You do better on tests.

But Americans are getting less sleep than ever and a majority say they don't get the sleep they know they need. An active social life and work demands reduce available sleep time. The 24-7 world in which we live is constantly stimulating, ever-present stress encourages sleep-impacting drug use (for example alcohol and coffee), and always-on electric lights create irregular sleep patterns. The alarm clock wakes us before we're ready. The TV special lures us to stay up late.

The demands of the marketplace society never end: Wake up and produce! Get going and consume! There's no time for a social life in between those demands, so we take our social time out of our sleep time and we shop and work and watch screens when we could be eating, or relaxing, or lovemaking, or music playing, or running around chasing a ball with the family dog.

The demands of the marketplace society never end: The Fiscal Times reports that sleeplessness is a 32.4 billion dollar business. They've got us coming and going.

Sleep. One more sacrifice at the altar of Mammon.


Ipie Unknown said...

Amen! I agree completely with your words and am glad for the encouragement as I am on a mission to give sleep the honor (and time) it deserves. It's cool in our culture to talk about how little sleep we live on...which is really warped.

puny human said...

Thanks for the comment Ipie, and good luck with your new blog!
Best wishes,