‘Crazy Busy’ and Not Slowing Down

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Every night I say I’m going to get more sleep, but it doesn’t usually happen. At midnight, I get a sudden burst of inspiration to write a blog post, or I decide that it seems like a good time to clean my room or look for things that I’ve lost in the clutter of my dresser draws.

At 8 p.m. I’m pooped. At 1 a.m. I’m wired. It’s weird how our bodies work, especially when they’ve been trained to follow a certain sleep schedule. Maybe I should just turn my clocks ahead so that when it’s 11 p.m. in all my neighbors’ apartments it’ll be 1 a.m. in mine. Or maybe I should fly back to Spain where siestas are a staple of daily life, putting commas amidst the run-on sentences of America’s biography.

We need more commas in life. A recent article from New York Magazine, “Snooze or Lose,” looked at how children’s cognitive abilities are affected by a lack of sleep. In it, Dr. Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University explains that “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.” He goes on to say that, ” “Sleep disorders can impair children’s I.Q.’s as much as lead exposure.” Wow. Also disturbing is the fact that children in elementary through high school get about an hour less sleep a night than children 30 years ago, according to studies referenced in the article.

I think part of this has to do with the fact that we’re so plugged into the world. At the end of the work day, it’s tough to know when to pull the plug. E-mail, iPhones, the Internet — all these technological advances have given us great capabilities to communicate with the world around us, but they’ve also severed a lot of our face-to-face communication, and our free time. There is always an e-mail to write. There’s always a phone call to make. There’s always a news update to read. This is especially tough for journalists as more and more newsrooms develop 24/7 continuous news desks. News doesn’t sleep, so sometimes journalists can’t either.

Geez, I’m glad I’m posting this at 9:05 p.m. instead of four hours from now.

Why do you think we’re a sleep-deprived, crazy busy nation? What do you think could help slow us down?