The Mystery of Sleep was put to bed just before the US election. The impact of President Trump’s alleged sleep deprivation and early morning tweeting was therefore not mentioned. Nor was the public’s obsession with technology and especially in monitoring their own sleep mentioned in sufficient detail. 

 

Sleep deprivation. As of this morning there are over 31,000 tweets by the US President. In the past, many have been at a time when people should be sleeping. The content and timing of some suggest poor judgement, impulsiveness, and irritability. It has been mentioned that he may have trouble concentrating and some of the decisions and actions made (e.g. impulsive firing of key staff) are questionable. The president has bragged that he only sleeps 3-4 hours a night. All of the symptoms just mentioned are those that are seen in sleep deprivation.

 

The onslaught of technology. In our 24-hour world many people are awake when they should be sleeping. Many are glued to their devices – smartphones, tablets, computers. These often beep at night to notify the person of emails coming in, Facebook notifications, Tweets, WhatApps calls. The light coming from the screens of these devices and the arousal of the brain when a person interacts with devices can inhibit sleep. Thus, sleep deprivation is a feature the connected lifestyle.

 

Obsession with Sleep. Ironically, while all this is going on there has developed among the public an obsession to know how much they sleep. There are many dozens of devices and smartphone and watch apps that claim to monitor how much a person sleeps and how deep and restful the sleep. At best, research suggests that some might be a measure of how much one sleeps. At worst, some are a waste of money (because their exaggerated claims of accuracy and what they can measure) but also they can worsen sleep issues. If your device tells you aren’t sleeping enough and you then try hard to sleep more, you might lie in bed and become anxious and frustrated. This leads to even more difficulty falling asleep. It's even possible that such sleep apps can cause what some scientists have called orthosomnia—"a perfectionistic quest for the ideal sleep."(1) If your sleep app tells you didn’t get a good night's sleep, it's not helping and simply may make you more anxious about not sleeping.

 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27855740

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