How to Get Over Getting Tired

Is a good night’s sleep obsolete?

Nobody—nobody—sleeps enough. The search for slumber is now a collective obsession, the topic of many yawn-filled conversations, marketing campaigns, and headlines. Sleep deficiency causes fatal road accidents and is a costly drain on the workforce. Children suffer at school. Moods are foul. Brains are shrunk. While problems like ADHD, obesity, and bad skin used to be attributed to diet, new studies suggest they might be due to catching insufficient Z’s. Gone are the days of sheep counting; we’ve lethargically moved on to prescription pill (and/or essential oil) popping. And the coffee. So much coffee. Yet little of it works. We are all, it seems, insanely tired.

After nearly losing my mind when my own insomniac tendencies collided with the endless wake-ups of my first child, I hired a family sleep consultant. She “trained” my baby and me to self-soothe, so we could put ourselves back to sleep after our many restless nights, which, she explained, are perfectly natural—the average full sleep cycle ranges from 70 to 120 minutes, not eight hours. “We’re training our kids to sleep like we do,” she wisely explained, “alone and for long periods of time.”

That’s when it hit me: Sleep as we know it—what I had always perceived to be an innate biological function—was actually a learned, social habit. Sleep is political.

Cultures around the globe sleep differently. In many Asian countries, co-sleeping among family members is the norm. Japanese parents, and even grandparents, often sleep near their children until they are teenagers, referring to this arrangement as a river—the parents are the banks, the child sleeping between them is the water. In New Guinea, it’s common for men to sleep in male sleeping quarters; women and children are on their own. Mediterranean countries have afternoon siestas; their workdays start later than ours, as do their meals and bedtimes. A seminal historical study by Roger Ekirch showed that for centuries, humans slept in two discrete chunks, with waking hours in between.

Shut-eye practices have been set around professional and family patterns (not to mention innovations in lighting). The eight-hour nocturnal slumber is thought to be a by-product of the Industrial Revolution and the standardized labor practices that followed. But fewer and fewer of us—myself included—work a 9-to-5 job, and technology has made the idea of set working hours obsolete for many. As a freelance journalist, I can write and email my editors at 3 a.m. if I like. And, perhaps in response to our evolving workdays, domestic structures are shifting to recall sleeping habits from other milieus. A record number of people live alone. Multi-generational families cohabiting in shared houses has been declared a new urban trend. Separately sleeping couples are increasingly common, as well: According to the National Association of Home Builders, 60 percent of custom homes will likely have dual master bedrooms by the end of 2015. The sites and configurations of our days and our beds are in flux.

Studies suggest that later-starting school days, especially for adolescents, would encourage better-rested and higher-performing students. But while our nexus of social and temporal arrangements are changing, we adults are sticking to old 11-to-7 sleep ideals, which is probably why we’re so bloody exhausted. I’m by no means denying that the coveted eight-hour sleep stretch makes me feel gloriously alert, but I am suggesting that we think about other models that might make us feel as good and which fit our shifting family and work structures. A recent study found that weight gain might have less to do with what we eat, and more with the time of the day we eat it. The clock is round and offers many permutations. Instead of pumping ourselves with downers and then uppers, we need to envision a new way to rest.

At least that’s what I tell myself as I wake up to nurse a new daughter every 90 minutes. Even if I don’t sleep tonight, I console myself, imagining the two of us resting on a beach hammock in a tropical Southern Hemispheric land—in the 18th century, while we’re at it—I’ll survive. I’ll rest in the morning, or afternoon, or with her lying on my belly. Or, frankly, whatever works.

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.