May 142010

Image via Silly Rabit, Trix are for Kids on flickr

Back in the late 1980’s Science Fiction and Fantasy author George R. R. Martin cobbled together a group of talented writers to create Wild Cards, a series of alternate history novels set in a universe where super heroes were real. One of the recurring characters in the series was a man named Croyd Crenson, alternately referred to as The Sleeper. In the Wild Cards universe people who were exposed to a virus had a chance to either die, become horribly deformed, or develop extraordinary abilities. The Sleeper was unique in that every time he fell asleep he would be infected with the virus anew, awaking in an entirely different form. Convinced that one day he would draw the “Black Queen” and die as a result of his re-infection with the virus, Crenson fought sleep for weeks on end.

Needless to say, this made him a bit crazy.

As anyone who has seen a Nightmare on Elm Street film can attest to, sleep is important (unless, that is, a scary dude who is covered in burns and has razors on his fingers is going to kill you in it). Going without sleep for long periods of time can have very negative effects on the psyche, but many of us aren’t likely to find ourselves in those kind of situations. What we do commonly face, however, are situations in which we simply do not get enough sleep. The average adult gets about 7 hours of sleep a night, but most studies suggest that in order to be fully rested they should be getting 8. Those numbers come from a study in Consumer Reports back in 1997. Chances are that if you did the same study today we’d probably be getting even less sleep.

One of the reasons? iPads.

Not just iPads, though. Some experts believe that the amount of time we spend staring at artificial light produced by electronic devices in the evening hours is tricking our brains into thinking that it is still daytime. As our bodies are biologically predisposed to be awake when the sun is out, this could potentially make it difficult for technophiles to get to sleep at night. Not only can this lead to decreased performance during the daytime hours, but a lack of decent sleep can also have an impact on your weight loss efforts. Many experts believe that quality sleep is a key factor in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.

There really isn’t any conclusive evidence that there is a direct correlation between electronics use and insomnia, but if you’re suffering from the latter it is certainly something to consider. There are several methods you can use to eliminate your exposure to artificial light before going to bed at night, but if you really need something to shut your brain down before nodding off to sleep the experts suggest you go back to what rapidly seems to be an old-fashioned practice…

Read a book.

Could I suggest, perhaps, Wild Cards?

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