What's up with global sleep trends?


Poor sleep. Restlessness. Lack of sleep. Insomnia. It's an emerging global nightmare. Like clean water and fresh air, peaceful regenerative sleep is something we humans simply cannot live without. And that is to be taken quite literally. Laboratory rats deprived of sleep for more than two weeks die. 

Records of voluntary sleep deprivation are no longer kept by the Guinness Book of Records, for fear participants will suffer lasting ill effects. When it comes to your health, sleep is serious business. 

Sadly, lack of sleep and insomnia are also serious business for big pharmaceutical corporations, who snore all the way to the bank on profits made off the sky-rocketing sales of sleeping pills. According to a new report by Global Industry Analysts Incorporated, the global market for sleeping pills will exceed nine billion US Dollars by the close of 2015. If that’s not a wakeup call, I don’t know what is.

The magic of ZZZ’s. An historical, anthropological and cultural perspective.

The hauntingly beautiful human truth of the Desiderata begins with the line: “Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” In a poem packed with wisdom that has echoed down the ages, that is the very first line! These days, some estimates suggest that as much as 90% of the world’s population does not get enough sleep! Peace and silence are not easily found in the modern world; but it was not always so. 

Researchers suggest that our hunter-gatherer ancestors enjoyed sleep broken into two or more periods called biphasic or polyphasic sleep. The practice lives on amongst nomadic peoples today. Probably wisely, Latin countries, like Spain, Portugal and her once-upon-a-time colony Brazil, preserve the wonderful tradition of the siesta. However, most of us are not lucky enough to live in such sleep-friendly cultures. 

With the coming of the mechanical clock came humanity’s farewell to rising and resting with the sun. Then, just two hundred years ago, the advent of artificial light changed the way we sleep - forever. Now most of the world practices monophasic sleep: That is sleeping through a single seven to eight hour period, or somewhat less if you happen to live in Japan or Korea. There’s nothing wrong with monophasic sleep as long as it is peaceful, restful and regenerative… But, in the immortal words of Hamlet, “therein lies the rub”.

When it comes to managing your health, don’t be caught asleep at the wheel.

The negative consequences of sleep deprivation, sleeplessness, or insomnia are legion. Make a conscious decision, right now, to monitor and manage the quality of your sleep. Start a sleep diary. Why? Because it’s a really big deal. How big? Think thermonuclear meltdown – that big!

Sleep deprivation was a factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill and the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a contributor to 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. And that’s before we start listing the likes of depression, impaired judgment, diabetes and heart disease.

Invest in a good mattress. And get a high quality magnet mattress underlay/overlay set to go with it. Most importantly, remember this: In today’s world you need to do more than close doors and draw curtains. You need to silence phones, turn off TVs, shut down computers and dim lights. You need to consciously turn away from the noise and haste, and rediscover the joy of a good night’s rest gained in peaceful silence. 

The mind is the architect of the body. Deciding to get more and better sleep is the only way it’s ever going to happen. With that, and with all sincerity, I wish you good day and, more importantly, good night.

Brett Noordink