Friday, December 16, 2005

The Stumpy Bedside Tyrant

Here's a great piece on the important of a good night's sleep from today's First Post by William Leith.
For anyone who doubts the thesis, I have just two words: Margaret Thatcher.

Don't go there
Tune out the stumpy bedside tyrant
by William Leith, from The First Post

I know what you're thinking, because I'm thinking the same thing, too. I'll set the alarm an hour early. Six hours sleep - possibly six and a half, if I can get off immediately - should just about do it. That way, I'll be able to finish everything tonight. I pick up the alarm clock and wind the nasty stumpy little hand a few degrees backwards. And then I lie there for a few seconds, feeling smug.
More and more of us are doing this. We have to work harder, and stay later, and the rush hour is longer. And everybody's solution is the same: reach for the alarm clock. Take the extra hour from the unconscious part of our lives. And of course, it's a vicious circle - when one person works a 10-hour day, everybody else must work a 10-hour day, too, just to keep up. And then the first person winds the stumpy little hand a smidgen further.
So you get more tired. So you drink more coffee. So what's the problem?
Actually, the problem is huge, and extremely sinister. Sleep is not just a chunk of time that you can't remember. It's amazingly complex. Left to sleep naturally, you would typically have five distinct dream sequences, the final one acting as a summing-up of the whole narrative. And dreams, as we know, counteract depression - they wash our minds clean, if you like, of negative feelings.
So that last hour of sleep is the most important bit. It's what keeps us human. It's the bit that keeps you calm when you get stuck in traffic.
If you're thinking of activating that nasty little thing on your bedside table, do us all a favour - don't go there.

1 comment:

Aaron Fleming said...

Very interesting. It's certainly something worth remembering in this workaholic world we live in.