Who would have thought that having it all – work-hard, play-hard – is a silent killer? In her new fact-based book, “The Sleep Revolution,” Arianna Huffington writes about how our American obsession with minimizing sleep and maximizing everything else is making us sick and unproductive.
Since the industrial revolution, sleep deprivation has become a badge of honor in our culture.
It started when electric lights extended days so that factories could be operating day and night. Sleeping and rest became a sign of privilege. Idle hands were ridiculed and productivity celebrated. In the working class culture, sleep and idleness became seen as a weakness.
Furthermore, beds were the most expensive piece of furniture, serving to keep occupants off cold and vermin-challenged floors. Beds were shared, with occupants young and old filling them to the edges. This was the reality for many households. Beds became temporary escapes rather than utilized for restful sleep. We are reminded that the sharing of a bed continues out of habit today, even if its occupants have drastically different sleep patterns that are disturbing to the other.
Huffington’s Sleep Revolution gives us a reality check of our old attitudes about sleep and the places where we rest our head. Sleep deprivation is expensive, yet it is rarely fully understood. Sleep deprivation is bundled into a series of abusive habits that keep us from resting bodies that simply need quality time to repair from our hectic modern lifestyles.
The book gives an abundance of scary facts about the cost of sleep deprivation from truck drivers and pilots crashing to executives jumping from buildings and exhausted mothers breaking cheekbones as they crash to the kitchen floor.
Research shows that sleep deprivation adds eleven days in lost productivity at a cost of $2,280 per worker per year, resulting in a loss of $63 billion in productivity in the U.S. This includes lackadaisical work due to sleepiness, errors and sickness caused by run down immune systems. The average eight hour workday with one hour commutes tagged to the front and end becomes even more grueling when additional responsibilities are added.
The good news, as we learn in this book, is that sleep deprivation is pleasantly reversible. Research on sleep deprivation is paying off. Athletes, executives, dual career parenting – all bleary eyed and over coffee-stimulated individuals can be transformed with sleep. Naps are in. Progressive companies such as Google now have nap rooms in their office space. University libraries are adding nap rooms and athletes are making naps and nightly sound-sleep part of their training schedules.
Having had her own sleep deprivation crash, Huffington gives us a wealth of information on how to simplify our lives to get our minimum hours of sleep – most need between seven to eight hours and a nap in the afternoon to rejuvenate the system. Sleep makes us healthier, slimmer, smarter, more creative and productive. An added bonus, when we rest, sleep tends to makes us better looking.
I found the book full of new information – when I thought I knew it all. My one suggestion is to make the book more interesting by including illustrations and charts.
Lucia Worthington has created numerous sleep stations for this summer – in her garden, at the beach and in her camper in the woods. To recommend a book for review, email firstname.lastname@example.org.