Henry Higgins or Addison DeWitt?

Don't Mess With My Sleep

There are two groups of people who annoy me - those who claim they have photographic memories and those who claim they don't "need" much sleep. There have been about a dozen cases of photographic memories. If you're not in a book somewhere, you have a good memory. It is not, however, photographic.

People who claim to not need much sleep also piss me off. People who get tired during the day, and have baggy eyes and non-supple skin and are fat need more sleep. They just live in a constant state of sleep deprivation. In the U.S., not sleeping is macho. If that's how someone wants to live, cool. But I am going to get as much as possible. If this means I'm "boring" by falling asleep at 9 p.m., oh well.

There are, however, some people who actually don't need much sleep. This is the first thing all year that made me jealous:

For a small group of people—perhaps just 1% to 3% of the population—sleep is a waste of time.

Natural "short sleepers," as they're officially known, are night owls and early birds simultaneously. They typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine.

They are also energetic, outgoing, optimistic and ambitious, according to the few researchers who have studied them. The pattern sometimes starts in childhood and often runs in families.

That is amazing, and if that is you, then I am jealous of you. However, you are likely not one of those non-sleeping elite, but instead are delusional and slowing killing yourself.

Out of every 100 people who believe they only need five or six hours of sleep a night, only about five people really do, Dr. Buysse says. The rest end up chronically sleep deprived, part of the one-third of U.S. adults who get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, according to a report last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data like that continues to crack me up. A full 95% of people are delusional, and yet I bet 75% of you will read that article and nod your head, "That's totally me!" There's a five-percent chance you're not killing yourself slowly, but narcissism drives us to view ourselves as part of the 5% exception rather than the 95% who fall under the rule.

Speaking of sleep, the comments are interesting. Here's a typical view:

It's hard to believe that only 1/3 of US adults are chronically sleep deprived. Who actually gets 7 hours per night to sleep? There aren't 7 hours left in the day of most people, one the 12 or 13 hours at the office, one hour of commuting each way, an hour to get ready in the morning, an hour to cook/eat, and an hour to do necessary chores and get ready for bed, plus the time needed to actually fall asleep. As soon as one has to work extra, go to a store, gets delayed in traffic, or has any other demand on their time, it can only come out of sleep time.

Stop doing chores. I'm serious. My place right now is a mess.

Sleep is linked to every measure of physical and cognitive health. I'm not going to lose sleep because there are clothes all over the place. I'll clean up when I have time - which means when sleep is not calling.

Yet how many little minds can't rest until banal "chores" are complete?  Does it matter that I have a full hamper of laundry? Sure, a little...I guess. Yet measured against the need for sleep, the laundry is a trivial concern. Why would I risk my health and well-being on a comparatively unimportant task?

Thus, many people are sleep deprived because they lack the cognitive function to recognize what matters and what doesn't. This becomes a vicious cycle, and fatigue makes a person even less capable of recognizing what truly matters.

If you have a legitimate sleep disorder, that sucks. If you're not getting enough sleep because you're watching television (which fucks with natural melatonin cycles) or because you can't focus your mind away from small tasks, then seek the help you desperately need.

I am a fan of cheesy self-help books, and these two (from the article's comment section) seem interesting:

There is a great book I just read from called, "I Can Make You Sleep", if you have a sleep disorder from shift-work or stress. It is pretty helpful. Another good medical book I just read is "Stories from the Emergency Department", which talks alot about people who work weird shifts, also on Amazon.

In college I used a self-hypnotic CD to help me start falling asleep. Getting quality sleep is probably the most important thing you can do for your health, and it should be prioritized accordingly.