If you’re feeling cranky, confused or too tired even for sex, blame it on THOMAS ALVA EDISON!!!
We’re all bushed, and it’s all his fault.
Humans have been screwing with their body clocks—and getting less sleep—ever since the Wizard of Menlo Park had his very bright idea. Indeed, our classic eight-hour-night only dates back to the invention of the light bulb in the late 1800s. Historians believe that before the dawn of electric lighting most people got plenty of sleep, and practiced what they call “segmented sleep,” snoozing for several hours in the first part of the night, when darkness fell, then waking in the middle of the night for a few hours of eating, drinking, praying, chatting with friends or maybe even canoodling, before ducking back under the covers again until morning. The arrival of electricity, argues sleep historian A. Roger Ekirch, led to later bedtimes and fewer hours of sleep overall.
We’re still waging a war on sleep, and we are, alas, still winning.
UNIVERSITY Of CHICAGO Research Team recently studied our sleep patterns over time and concluded that we now sleep between one and two hours less than we did 60 years ago. In the 1970s, most Americans slept about 7.1 hours per night: Now the mean sleep duration has plunged to 6.1 hours. An hour lost in 40 years? If we keep up at this rate, we’ll be down to less than four hours a night by the end of the century. And very, very cranky.
NEWSWEEK Journalist BETTY ISAACSON gets between the sheets to delve into The GREAT AMERICAN SLEEP DEFICIT And WHAT To DO ABOUT IT.