(Can’t believe that in more than 250 film titles this is the first to mention the immortal Raymond Chandler…. though perhaps it’s wise to use his titles sparingly (surprisingly, he wrote only seven novels, though each is a masterpiece))
The lead story in Wednesday’s Times featured a new study into the links between disrupted sleep and depression, and recommends that mobile phones should be switched off at 10pm – “people who spend the night checking social media, watching television, or roaming the house are more likely to suffer from mood problems such as neuroticism and bipolar disorder….” (no sh*t, Sherlock – Irreverent Ed).
A great example of serendipity….
As you will have noticed hem hem the Ed is an aficionado (there’s posh) of the class of literature loosely defined as “self-help’, and has not infrequently brought new nuggets to the attention of the Bluffington Post’s faithful readers – but although there are learning points to take from all these, it’s rare to come across a book which will genuinely change your life.
The Editorial team is therefore proud to recommend Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker (read by the Ed this week — a grateful HT to Zoë Fisher for drawing this to the Ed’s attention), and (another rare occurrence) will feature this in two successive editions of the Post.
The author is the Prof of Neuroscience and Psychology, and Director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, at Berkeley. He has spent the last twenty years or so researching sleep (in all its aspects) and has now published his first book — which is fascinating (and very well written), but in some ways more than a little alarming.
As the Prof says, it’s really surprising that until recently we knew hardly anything about sleep (considering that it takes up nearly a third of our lives).
All members of the animal kingdom sleep, from the fifteen hours plus enjoyed by the big cats (and Toots, the Editorial cat, sometimes seems to beat this figure with ease) to the four hours taken by elephants — whales and dolphins have to keep breathing to survive, so the left and right halves of their brains sleep in turn — and even some plants have a form of sleep, so it’s not surprising that we aren’t an exception.
It’s been known for a long time that it’s good for us (as pointed out by Shakespeare – see quotes section – as well as by your mother), and that serious sleep deprivation is catastrophic (it’s been used as a method of torture, and eventually sends you mad).
What wasn’t known until the researches of the Prof and his fellow boffins was that there are lots of different types of sleep (each serving a different function), and that what many people would regard as only a marginal shortage of sleep, if sustained over even a moderate period, can have serious effects on your health, in the long as well as short term. It’s also the case that the comforting illusion that you can counterbalance serious sleep shortage during the working week by a lie in on a Saturday morning is (sadly) just that — an illusion.
To function most effectively, nearly all of us need eight hours of (good) sleep a night, and most of us don’t get it (in either sense). It is thought that two-thirds of adults in the developed world sleep less than this. You probably don’t find that surprising – but what you might not be aware of (and the Ed certainly wasn’t) are the consequences.
To quote the Prof – “routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep – even moderate reductions for just one week – disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic”.
Sleep deficiency also increases the probability of heart attacks, and causes you to eat more and drink more alcohol. It can have more immediate disastrous consequences, too – the Exxon Valdez disaster (which in 1989 polluted 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline and killed more than 500,000 seabirds) was caused by a navigational error by the Third Mate, who had had only six hours sleep in the previous two days – the Chernobyl operators on duty were seriously sleep deprived – and a large number of road deaths every year are caused by people falling asleep at the wheel.
Easy to identify the problem – but how to overcome it? More next time (cue Barwick Green music….).
An unusually sombre note to the Business Bit this week – time to move on to the oddball stuff in the news –
- In the salerooms, Christie’s 0 Sotheby’s 1 – Christie’s sold a painting “by an unknown follower of Rembrandt” eighteen months ago for £137,000, but it now turns out it’s a real Rembrandt (worth over £10million), while Sotheby’s has sold Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (the largest and most famous of Modigliani’s nude paintings) for $157million.
- Ms Jane Fonda (80!) says that ageism is alive and well in Hollywood, after revealing that she and Diane Keaton (a mere 72) were put under pressure to stand down from the cast of Book Club (a film about older women reinvigorating their sex lives after reading Fifty Shades Of Grey) – because they are “too old” (d’ohh)….
- ….while the judges of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction had a ”jovial” four hour restaurant lunch to select this year’s winner – and rejected the lot because none of them was funny enough.
- Prof Clive Wynne (of Arizona State Uni) reckons he’s proved that the “optimal age of maximum cuteness” of dogs is eight weeks…. while other boffins think that all dogs are still wolves at heart.
- Uproar in God’s Own County after the New York Times published a recipe for Yorkshire Pudding (which it called a “Dutch Baby” and described as a “large, fluffy pancake”) – served with syrup, jam, sugar, or berries (it really is time that these colonial rebels were brought back into line – Colonel Blimp Ed)….
- …. maybe they should try some yoghurt first – Dr Rutsong Pei (from the Uni of Wisconsin-Madison) says that eating a pot of yoghurt before a breakfast of “two sausage muffins and two hash browns” stopped “harmful inflammatory molecules” from entering the bloodstream
- The British Horseracing Authority is reviewing licensing arrangements at racecourses, following fights at Newmarket, Aintree, Cheltenham, Goodwood, and (this week) Ascot.
- The Southern Hemisphere’s largest wave (23.8m – the height of Buckingham Palace [gulp]) was recorded off New Zealand this week, though they’ve still got a way to go to match the Northern Hemisphere’s 30.5m (off Alaska in 1958 – though that was after an earthquake).
- Mr Joe Hollins (the vet who looks after the tortoises on St Helena) strongly denied rumours that Jonathan (186, and blind) was leading a sexless life – “he has a tremendous libido” (respect!)
- the first mosque has opened on the Isle of Lewis.
- And finally a Charlton has had his England footy debut – at the age of 72. Tommy (younger brother of Bobby and Jack) turned out for the England Over-60’s against Italy in the world’s first walking footy international.
On to Columbo Corner, and four contrasting tales this week (gasp).
1) a “small” study by boffins at Skidmore College (in New York) has concluded that despite the style guides advocating only one space after a full stop (or “period”, as the researchers no doubt called it), leaving two spaces can make text easier to read (hurrah and huzzah – though the blog’s publishing software won’t allow it chiz chiz chiz)
2) the Joint Council for Qualifications, which oversees exam regulations across the UK, is to ban pupils from wearing watches during exams (in an attempt to reduce cheating)
3) Nike is attempting to make your life easier – they have filed a patent for trainers that contain a “rotatable conveyor element” in the sole – in other words, they put themselves on (clearly the invention of the shoehorn has passed them by)
4) and HMG has renationalised the East Coast Main Line after the operators incurred big losses (the third time in eleven years this has happened). The new public-private partnership will be called London and North Eastern Railway. The Ed looks forward to the triumphant return of Gresley Pacifics to King’s Cross….
Have a great weekend – and it might be worth a quick look in the attic to see if you can spot a painting “by an unknown follower of Rembrandt” (or, indeed, Modigliani) ….
Cheers for now
I presently run three Boards –
Dark Blue (for people who run large businesses) – one spare seat
Light Blue (for people who run large businesses) — two spare seats
White Board (for people who run fast-growing businesses) — two spare seats
“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room” (Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely)
“It was a blonde — a blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window” (Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely)
“Sleep, that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,/The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,/Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,/Chief nourisher in life’s feast….” (Macbeth, Act II Sc 2)
“I went up into the attic and found a Stradivarius and a Rembrandt. Unfortunately Stradivarius was a terrible painter and Rembrandt made lousy violins” (the late, great Tommy Cooper)
“I cannot write about England because it takes me about a fortnight to get to know the language and work out whether I’ve been insulted” (Tom Wolfe, who died this week — RIP) (HT brother Crispin for pointing out this quote)
Tom Morton – TAB Harrogate