Tuesday, January 26, 2021

There Is No Such Thing As A Good Night's Sleep!

Americans are obsessed with their sleeping habits.

The real genius of the My Pillow Guy isn't that he's a rabid Trump supporter, nor that he designed some fancy new pillow that changes your life forever, but that he seized upon America's obsession with sleeping habits.  You can make a lot of money catering to people's obsessions.  Sleep and losing weight are two good ones to work with.

In a classic example of Arbitrage, he mortgaged his home and businesses to raise $500,000 to put on an infomercial advertising his sleep pillow. The infomercial was saturated on cable television and before long, orders came pouring in.  If you build it, they will come.   You can sell utter crap on cable television, and people will buy it - hence the shopping channels.

The same effect is used today on the internet. Clickbait sites advertise heavily on legitimate websites, paying heavily for the privilege. They're hoping you will click on their cleverly worded headlines and scroll through a 50-page slideshow which will generate more revenue than they spent luring you in.  That is one reason why internet advertising is so shitty.  You would think that by now, it would be mostly big companies - the folks who used to advertise on network television.  But no, it still is bottom-of-the-barrel crapola, but instead of "one trick of the tiny belly" it is "You'll never believe how these 50 celebrities now look!" - which leads you to a 100-page slideshow with banner ads, pop-up ads, pop-under ads, and ads on top of ads.

The My Pillow guy did the same thing. He lured people in using one of the oldest anxieties Americans suffer from, their obsession that somehow they're sleeping wrong.

It's not just pillows, although there are a variety of pillows for sale out there which promise you a good night's sleep. They're also things like Tempur-Pedic mattresses, Sleep Number mattresses, and fancy mattresses that go up and down - as well as all sorts of different types of bedding that supposed to improve your sleeping ability.  If that's not enough, you can go to the doctor and have a sleep study to be told that you are sleeping wrong, and possibly be prescribed with some sort of breathing machine.

People are obsessed with this idea of getting a good night's sleep. According to the fantasy promoted by the television, you go to sleep and have pleasant dreams all night long and wake up to the sunrise, refreshed, with the birds chirping and the flowers blooming.  You jump out of bed and start your day! Anything less than that is that is abnormal.

But such is not the case.  In reality, sleep is a coma-like state that you fall into - and coming out of it is no Swiss picnic. Nobody talks about arising from a long, refreshing coma.  Rather, if you do revive from a coma, you're going to be in a groggy and debilitated state for days if not weeks.  Nobody jumps out of bed after coma and says, "Gosh I feel refreshed!"

There are so many problems with sleeping it's not even funny. To begin with, it's a period of six to twelve hours where you have absolutely no hydration whatsoever, and moreover no food. There's a reason we call breakfast "break-fast" in that you are breaking the longest fast that you have during a day -  that long stretch of time during the night when you're not eating.

So when you wake up in the morning, you're dehydrated and your blood sugar level is at its lowest in the day.  It's no wonder that you feel groggy and lethargic. In fact, it would be surprising if you didn't.  In addition, you're going from a state where your metabolism is at its lowest, to a wide-awake condition, something that your body is not used to doing.  No one springs out of bed in the morning, that's just a myth.

Worse yet, your body contorts to all sorts of positions during the night. If you could see yourself while you're sleeping, you look like a dead body, with your limbs twisted and all sorts of different directions. Your heart rate drops, your breathing is shallow, and your blood circulation slows. Your arms legs may "fall asleep."  As your breathing drops down to nearly nothing, and you may start snoring as your airway is obstructed because of the weird position you've contorted yourself into, often caused by some horribly designed pillow, maybe even from the My Pillow guy.

Sleep really is an odd thing, when you think about it. Some people think that sleep is necessary for your body to rejuvenate itself from a hard day of work.  Others think that is something the mind needs to do to unwind.  Yet others point out that if animals don't sleep, they tend to get to a lot of trouble, and their life expectancy shortens.  We may not so much need sleep, as we need to just stop doing things for half the day. The bunny napping in his burrow is less likely to be eaten by an owl or hawk than the one that is up all day and night.

Sleep is also a time when your body digests food. As I noted before, a doctor explained to me than eating late at night is not a good thing for your sleep habits, as your intestines have to run a marathon while you're sleeping.  So in addition to going for 6-12 hours without food or drink, your body has to work hard to digest all the junk you ate during the day. Who in the hell would wake up refreshed from that?

Considering all of this, it's no wonder nobody gets a good night's sleep. In fact, I doubt such a thing actually exists.  But this anxiety about sleeping is something that people can market to, and do so successfully. People think that "if only" they can get their sleep habits in order, their entire life would change and all of a sudden everything would be so much better.  They would have all this extra energy and they be happier and less depressed.  But the reality is, no one gets a good night's sleep, just as no one gets a good night's coma.

The super duper mattress or fancy pillow or night guard or sleep goggles or CPAP machine or whatever aren't going to change your life dramatically. At best, we'll just drain your bank account or maybe add had to your credit card debt. A better approach, I think, is to realize there's no such thing as a good night's sleep and just let it go at that.  Spending money isn't going to make you happier or solve your life's problems, despite what they tell you.

This is not to say that people don't have "sleep disorders" only that the are far rarer than we think.  It is all-too-easy, particularly in old age, to become too introspective with your body, and go looking for trouble, which is why Medicare costs so much, and why you see advertisements for medicines to cure problems you never knew you had.  Restless leg syndrome?  Another sleep-related malady and a cure you can buy.  Or drink some water - chances are you are dehyradated.

As I noted before, back in the day, Grandpa snored - he didn't have sleep apnea nor did he need a CPAP machine because they didn't exist. Grandpa lived to be 98 - funny thing that.  People were tired when they got up out of bed, not because they "didn't get a good night's sleep" but because they just awoke from a coma-like state where their entire metabolism was at its nadir.

This whole sleep nonsense is part of this obsession we have in America about "changing our life forever!" which I talked about before and will address in my next posting.