Sleep. It is a basic, yes? A new episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast had, as a guest, Matthew Walker, described as Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. As is always the case on Rogan’s web show, the episode consists of a long conversation, without breaks, for commercials, or anything. You know, an actual real conversation.
The topic, this time, was all about sleep. As is usual on Rogan’s webcasts, this is a long conversation, around two hours in this episode. Some might think, really, I’m supposed to take two hours to listen to people talk about sleep? What a waste of time! Well, I am here to tell you, it is not.
I will not be trying to summarize what was said in that program. It was an actual real full conversation, not a series of sound-bite recitations, and there was quite a lot addressed and explained by Matthew Walker, that should be heard, in full, in context. There is a lot to learn there, things I did not know, things that matter.
Broadly, a lot was said about the importance of sleep, the importance and necessity of good sleep, in quantity and quality. What was especially notable was to discover that what is considered adequate and healthy by probably a very large number of people, especially Americans these days, is not. The conversation included a lot of discussion of how and why so many people are, to put it simply, sleep deprived. Quite often, to state something that is not any great surprise revelation, people slogging through that regard it with the basic thought “I don’t have time for that!”. They don’t have time; they’re too busy; a full healthy sleep is a waste of time, for lazy sloths!
I know people like that, you might even be one of the people I’m describing. THE funny thing is people who take that sort of view of sleep, maybe because they really are in situations where they cannot manage to get enough quality sleep, are possibly also very unlikely to take the time to listen to the conversation I point out.
So here we are, in a society where vast numbers of people are just not getting the sleep they need, as an ongoing chronic condition, and thinking that they are just fine, maybe even thinking this is some kind of virtue, when, well, they are not fine, at all. Again, I cannot emphasize this enough, the whole talk is worth hearing, I cannot do justice to it in some quick summary. The broad gist of much of what was covered is that we have a widespread epidemic of people staggering around suffering from inadequate sleep, and this is not only a source of physical health problems (you might be unpleasantly surprised), but real mental health problems. You simply end up not functioning properly. Just to toss this in, Walker said that a study showed that after people had been awake for a length of time that is probably fairly common for many people, you are mentally impaired to a level that is effectively the same as being legally drunk.
As I listened, I began to think about all of what I was hearing and think about the subject I have just recently been writing about, in conjunction with the sleep issues. How many people, feeling that they just do not have time for proper sleep, also operate in a condition of being poorly informed, or even badly misinformed, because they see a time problem regarding news and information. They want just quick simple info-dumps of “news”. Keep it short and simple, from “reliable news sources”! In the case of this sleep topic discussed at length between Joe Rogan and Matthew Walker, how might this be treated elsewhere, where 10 minutes on something might be regarded as “in depth coverage”?
At some point, it becomes a real issue, all this, wondering how many people are staggering around, with partial snippets of vague information, maybe even seriously flawed “information”, and so fuzzy around the edges and overloaded that they are not really even processing any of it very well.
A comment following up on the last note about “trusted news sources” prompted more thinking, not that I really stopped thinking about it. One aspect is the need for people to have reliable sources of information, and how that might, or might not, depending on individual people, turn into a craving for news sources that they can regard at face value, without a lot of thought, scrutiny, or any doubts about validity, or what might be missing. Unfortunately, in my opinion, based on my own observations, far too many people do as I suggested in the last note; they decide what they regard as reliable sources, “trusted news”, “real news”, and simply swallow it all whole, and move on to the next item in their day.
Another good point, food for thought, was related to not just this topic, but the broader question of how societies occasionally seem to collectively go mad. A lot of this revolves around the general idea of people forming what’s in their heads about particular subjects by consensus. That, I’m afraid, gets us right back to an ongoing issue, the problem I have been calling bipolar political disorder.
I was listening to another longer discussion, again, in a video online in a setting where extended discussions are possible, about what is happening in Syria, and specifically about how badly misinformed we are about the situation and events there. Something was said in that talk about how so many people constantly look at any news, any event and broader circumstances, in terms of “the sides involved”, and their guide to truth and credibility, rather than the information at hand.
A new story popped up online, reporting that in some analysis of freedom of the press, ranking countries around the world, however they went about this, the United States ranks 45th. That’s pretty abysmal, for the nation proclaimed as being the home, advocate, and defender of freedom and democracy and a free press. The way I found this was by a link being presented by someone who presented this unfortunate item as being a Trump problem.
It’s a perfect example of what I have been talking about. There is a lot of this around, people firmly entrenched, whose reasoning basically goes something like: Trump is a terrible president (no argument here), so, therefore, anything bad is a Trump problem. Look what Trump did now! Everything was just fine until he came along! Hand in hand with that, basically, comes the problem that if you suggest anything otherwise, no matter how absurd and unrelated to reality the assertions at hand might be, well, you’re obviously one of those nasty Trump supporters! You’re not part of The Resistance! Begone, you Right Wing propaganda troll!