Research Blog

Sleep in the news: sleep, status and boredom

Part of a semi-regular series of brief descriptions and links to articles on sleep (and sleep justice) in the news.

I had a look at my proposed research plan to find out just how behind I am. I’ve done some 3D printing and put in a long book order. And quite a bit of reading, thinking, note-taking and scribbling has been done. There will be a time to stop looking and start doing in earnest. But it seems there’s always something new to read about sleep.

This New Yorker article isn’t exactly new, but it is fascinating. It describes some pro-sleep interventions that sound speculative but aren’t, like smart pillows, headsets, and other gadgets (see below), as well as podcasts and meditation courses. But the main point comes in the title: Sleep is the New Status Symbol. “I can see sleep being another weapon in competitive parenting and career-building,” says one researcher. Should we put our average hours of sleep on our resumes? Now there’s an idea.

This is the Sense, a gadget that measures air quality and noise in your bedrooms and suggests ways to improve your sleep.
This is the Sense, a gadget that measures air quality and noise in your bedroom and suggests ways to improve your sleep.

Being bored is supposed to send us to sleep. So The Guardian lists the best podcasts designed to bore us silly. “Designed to” is the key term here. They actually sound a bit too interesting, actually. What about listening to something just plain old boring?

Next, a writer for The Vulture goes on an odyssey through the latest in sleep wisdom in search of a better night’s sleep. Every night for two weeks she tries a different technique. Playing late night video games does not help – perhaps not unsurprisingly. In fact, nothing she tries really works. The article includes some interesting comments on the snobbery lurking behind judgements on people’s late night habits. Is staying up late watching junk TV so frowned on because it’s terrible for your sleep or because it’s junk TV and therefore bad?