Somehow in the process of building modern high-tech lives, we’ve lost sight of more basic human rhythms and forgotten how to sleep. Not entirely, of course — people still obviously do sleep — but as a cultural phenomenon we’re starting to see the accumulated effects of chronic sleep deprivation take hold. This may have to do with the dreaded “blue light” from our devices and technologies, the stresses of managing increasingly complex lives, or the decreasing connectivity we have with the natural world. And while it affects all of us to some extent, young people are particularly susceptible to losing sleep.
At the same time, people today tend to be more sedentary, sitting for longer periods and having their attention coopted by digital apparatuses and “bingewatching” the world through their screens (oh like, I don’t know, the recent series “Awake” that is actually about a near-apocalypse where people can’t fall asleep). The problem is that our expanding passive behaviors aren’t restful, but are more zombie-like and not good for our bodies and minds. So we have a double-whammy going on in which people are less active and less rested at the same time. Great! So now what? If only there was an app for that (wink)!
Maybe The Beatles had it right in their song “I’m Only Sleeping”: Everybody seems to think I’m lazy | I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy | Running everywhere at such a speed | Till they find there’s no need | Please, don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away | And after all I’m only sleeping. John later followed this up with his nod to “Watching the Wheels” and letting go of our worldly troubles: People say I’m lazy | Dreaming my life away | Well they give me all kinds of advice | Designed to enlighten me | When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall | “Don’t you miss the big time boy, you’re no longer on the ball?” However we slice it, it’s the same: getting some rest can mean being more woke!
The master of pointed musical absorptions, none other than Moz himself, recently dropped this little tune that nicely sums up the times we live in, and puts in a nod for getting more out of life by doing less:
Spent the day in bed
Very happy I did, yes
I spent the day in bed
As the workers stay enslaved…
And I recommend that you
Stop watching the news
Because the news contrives to frighten you
To make you feel small and alone
To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own
Life ends in death
So, there’s nothing wrong with
Being good to yourself
Be good to yourself for once
Yes friends, be good to yourselves — and one another. Being rested and mindful about our sleeping and waking moments alike is a good place to start. I know how challenging this can be, with life’s worries seeping in through the small moments AND the fate of the world in equal parts. Still, the challenge of being rested so that we can meet these moments as our best selves is at hand. Ultimately, maybe we’ll get enough rest while we can so that we’re able to be fully awake and present when the alarm bells ring.
NOTE: Originally written in early 2018, along with a host of other pieces thinking about the effects of pervasive & incessant technology in our lives; you know it’s bad when we need an app to help us take a nap!