Now behind the Wall, but plenty of excerpts available in this March 26, 2005 post…
Ha! The New York Times has this neat article, that is almost half as good as my early (and so far most frequently linked) post “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sleep”. Here are some excerpts, go read the rest:
THERE was a time when to project an image of industriousness and responsibility, all a person had to do was wake at the crack of dawn. But in a culture obsessed with status–in which every conceivable personal detail stands as a marker of one’s ambition or lack thereof–waking at dawn means simply running with the pack. To really get ahead in the world, to obtain the sacred stuff of C.E.O.’s and overachievers, one must get up before the other guy, when the roosters themselves are still deep in REM sleep. And of course since so few people are awake at such an ungodly hour, the early risers of the world take special pains to let everyone else know of their impressive circadian discipline.
At least since Benjamin Franklin included the proverb “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” in his Poor Richard’s Almanac, Americans have looked at sleeping habits as a measure of a person’s character. Perhaps because in the agrarian past people had to wake at dawn to get in a full day’s work outside, late sleepers have been viewed as a drag on the collective good.
Sleep researchers are casting doubt on the presumed virtue and benefits of waking early, with research showing that the time one wakes up has little bearing on income or success, and that people’s sleep cycles are not entirely under their control. Buoyed by the reassessment of their bedtime habits, a few outspoken and well-rested night owls are speaking out against the creep of sleepism.
Whatever the negative associations with sleeping late, scientists say there’s good reason to doubt the boasts of the early risers. Dr. Daniel F. Kripke, a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Diego, said that in one study he attached motion sensors to subjects’ wrists to determine when they were up and about. While 5 percent of the subjects claimed they were awake before 4 a.m., Dr. Kripke said, the motion sensors suggested none of them were. And while 10 percent reported they were up and at ’em by 5 a.m., only 5 percent were out of bed.
Dr. Stepanski said the same is true of people who boast they need little sleep. In a study in which subjects claimed they could get by on just five hours’ sleep, he said, researchers found the subjects were sneaking in long naps and sleeping in on weekends to make up for lost z’s.
Variations in sleep patterns among the population, he added, may have benefited the species.
“The whole tribe is better off if someone is up all the night, listening for a lion walking through the grass,” he said.
The rhythms of modern times are determined not by fanged predators, of course, but by the 9-to-5 schedule of the workaday world. While those hours would seem to benefit larks, there is little evidence that night owls are any less successful than early risers. Dr. Kripke said that a 2001 study of adults in San Diego showed no correlation between waking time and income. There’s even anecdotal evidence of parity on the world stage; President Bush is said to wake each day at 5 a.m., to be at his desk by 7 and to go to sleep at 10 p.m., while no less an achiever than Russian President Vladimir V. Putin reportedly wakes at 11 a.m. and works until 2 a.m.
So, if I may ask, why on Earth did they decide to end this article with a quote from some idiotic inspirational guru whose very words are debunked by the rest of the article? Ah, the stupidities of the he said/she said journalism! Everything has to have two sides, or does it? Even if the article describes how an aspect of the world works, they just HAVE TO ruin it by digging out some moron who, out of ignorance, is going to provide that precious ‘contrary’ quote!