The Dark History Of Sleep Deprivation: From Thomas Edison To Modern Masculinity
In our modern world, not getting enough sleep is often seen as a badge of honor and associated with strength, productivity, and masculinity.
This notion has been perpetuated by leaders such as Thomas Edison who championed less sleep while pushing his invention of electricity – something that ultimately kept us up later than ever before.
But the truth is that not getting enough sleep can have dangerous implications on our physical and mental health.
That’s why it’s important to debunk the negative myths about sleep in order to encourage healthy habits.
People should be aware of the risks of going without proper rest and strive for adequate quality sleep each night.
It is essential for achieving peak performance both mentally and physically, regulating hormones and emotions, improving cognition, and maintaining overall well-being.
So don’t buy into the idea that skimping on shut-eye makes you strong – in reality it simply weakens you!
Benjamin Franklin’S Early Writings Showed A Reasonable Attitude Towards Sleep, But He Came To Believe That Sleep Was Something To Avoid And Time Only For The Dead
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was one of the first Americans to seriously ponder the importance of sleep.
Unfortunately, his poor legacy on the subject lives on today.
In 1735, Franklin published an almanac titled Poor Richard’s Almanack which included a famous saying: “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.
This was actually sound advice in those days considering that people needed enough energy to get things done.
But as time moved forward, Franklin’s attitude changed when it came to sleep – he started telling people there would be time enough for rest once they’re six feet under and furthermore began imploring them not to waste their lives sleeping in and lazing about.
This changed perspective may have been inspired by John Calvin, a Protestant reformer and someone Ben Franklin deeply respected who himself was known for his deep-seated aversion towards sleep.
In Calvin’s eulogy upon his death at 55 years old, Ben noted that him living such a long life despite wasting so little time on sleeping and sloth proved how important it is for us humans to maximize our productivity by cutting back on sleeping time.
Unfortunatley, we still live in times where society values hard work over prioritizing restful sleep – which can lead to severe consequences if left unchecked!
The Lasting Legacy Of Thomas Edison’S Push For Sleeplessness
If there’s one thing everyone knows about Thomas Edison, it’s that he was incredibly prolific and influential.
But what many people don’t know is that Edison played a major role in promoting a culture of sleeplessness in early America.
For starters, by introducing the light bulb to society, Edison made it possible for people to work at night and gave an immediate competitive edge to those who did so.
Moreover, when founding General Electric, he only hired employees who were willing to stay up and work for long periods of time.
He even went as far as speaking publicly at exhibitions and conspiring with journalists to promote the idea that sleep was wasted time!
The press lapped it up.
Newspapers ran admiring profiles of Edison that described how he stayed awake day and night – usually resting for two or three hours at a time – and details about his innovative processes for creating technological breakthroughs.
Charles Lindbergh And The Celebrated Masculinity Of Sleeplessness
When Charles Lindbergh announced his intention to fly a plane 3,600 miles over the Atlantic Ocean – which would break records for the longest flight ever attempted – he became an American idol and a symbol of modern manhood.
His plans meant that he had to make his fifty-foot plane as light as possible by flying alone and without any communication equipment on board, which only increased the public’s admiration for him.
Lindbergh undertook his daring feat in 1927, traveling for thirty-three and a half hours and risking death if he even nodded off for a moment.
The press helped fuel suspense of the journey, reporting Lindberg only managed to sleep an hour or two the night before take off.
In spite of this monumental pressure, however, Lindberg landed quite safely in Paris on the evening May 21st.
To maintain his image of rugged manliness when asked questions by press after landing, he said it was “no problem at all” to stay awake during the flight – an impressive statement given his obvious fatigue.
The Rise Of The Sleep-Less, Work-More Movement In The 1980S Led By Walmart Ceo Sam Walton
The 1980s saw the rise of a new, global economy that demanded longer hours from its employees.
With money as the goal and sleep as the enemy, more and more people began to adopt this attitude – leading to a booming fitness craze that valued effort over rest.
Although psychologists and scientists had begun to release findings which countered accepted understandings about the need for eight hours of sleep per night, journalists were quick to adjust their already-held beliefs and sought out scientific data that supported the narrative of sleepless success.
Entire books were even written about preferring less sleep was beneficial in some aspects!
For those who needed further proof, however, charismatic businessmen like Walmart CEO Samuel Walton provided great examples.
Walton worked 90-hour workweeks by waking up at 2:00 a.m., starting his day at 6:00 a.m., and ending it only when midnight had struck – all while still successfully running Walmart’s stores with carefully-reviewed sales figures!
Tom Peters also wrote in ‘In Search of Excellence’ that Walton had various eccentric methods of motivation, such as visiting distribution centers unexpectedly with donuts!
Trump And Other Icons Of Hypermasculinity Show That Sleep Isn’T A Priority
Donald Trump and American sports culture continued to link sleeplessness with success throughout the 20th century.
His best-selling book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, revealed his recipe for success: to work extremely hard and rest as little as possible.
He also spoke about how sleeping less could give you a leg up on competitors in a business environment that never slept.
The same mentality was reflected in American sports, particularly the National Football League.
George Halas worked 16-hour days while managing the Chicago Bears until 1983 and his assistant George Allen adopted this style when he became manager of the Washington Redskins, sleeping a few hours every night and using his office as a bedroom so he wouldn’t have to waste time commuting.
It was clear that many of America’s most successful figures had adopted sleeplessness linked to success as an integral part of their routines – but were there any advocates for structured working hours? We’ll explore this in our next section.
The Lochner Case: How The Supreme Court Failed To Uphold Worker Protection In The Early 1900S
Despite multiple Supreme Court cases in the early 20th century that aimed to create regulations around safe work schedules, unfortunately, not much has changed.
It all started with the famous Lochner v.
New York case, where John Lochner had been indicted by the state for violating its new laws around a ideal working hours for bakers—including a maximum of ten hours per day and 60 hours per week.
But despite arguments from his attorney that it was essential for both employees’ health and safety, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr.
Lochner, declaring it a private matter between employer and employee.
Things only began to improve when a similar case involved women in the state of Oregon appeared before the court in 1908.
Here, Louis Brandeis argued on behalf of the state that by exceeding 10-hour working days, these women were risking their ability to bear children—a persuasive argument that worked as the Supreme Court successfully supported Oregon’s regulations.
Even so, this did not result in any federal regulations being passed which would ensure safer working schedules nation-wide—much to everyone’s disappointment.
To this day, over 100 years later, workers throughout America still have no real guarantee of good working conditions or safe limits when it comes to their maximum weekly overtime hours.
How Libby Zion’S Tragic Death Led To Working Restrictions For Hospital Staff
While the problem of overworking is not limited to healthcare workers, they are the only group who have had regulations put in place to prevent it.
This was triggered by a tragic occurrence in 1984; 18-year-old Libby Zion was admitted to the Manhattan Hospital in New York with flu-like symptoms and died just a few hours later.
It seems likely that she was given a tranquilizer which reacted badly with anti-depressants she was taking – and the overworked staff played a significant part in this.
The incident prompted action, and at the prompting of Libby Zion’s father, a grand jury declared that working hours for physicians must be regulated.
A year later, physician Bertrand Bell headed a committee which set out guidelines: no more than 80 hours of work per week and no more than 24 hours at one time, plus an uninterrupted 24 hour break each week for recuperation.
This sort of commitment to safety is still rare – but at least those working in healthcare now have regulations in place to protect them from overwork and fatigue.
In Dangerously Sleepy, author Dr.
Mednick shines a harsh light on the dangerous reality of too little sleep.
With a legacy lingering from the industrial revolution of viewing sleep as an obstacle to success and well-being, Dr.
Mednick reminds us that skimping on sleep has serious consequences both physically and mentally, leading to health risks and fatigue – something that no one can afford in their everyday life.
The final message presented by Dr.
Mednick is simple yet powerful: make more time for sleep in your busy schedule!
Spending priority time on getting restful sleep will have notably positive effects on your work efficiency, physical performance and overall mental wellbeing – something worth striving for!