ASLEEP IN THE FAST LANE: The Impact of Sleep on Work by Lydia Dotto

ASLEEP IN THE FAST LANE: The Impact of Sleep on Work

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Snoozing airplane pilots, yawning medical interns, and grumpy urban professionals are the price we pay for a round-the-clock life-style, reports the Canadian author of Planet Earth in Jeopardy (1986); the advent of the space era and a globalized economy herald an ever greater need for efficient sleep and more appropriate sleep/work rhythms. No one knows why people sleep, but despite the introduction of the light bulb, shift work, overtime, computers, fax machines, supersonic jets, and other inducements to produce without a break, the human body insists on wasting eight precious hours every day. Stealing time from sleep to devote to work has become a pervasive modern-day practice; the result is often inattentiveness, personal discontent, and even--in critical professions such as medicine--the possibility of fatal errors of judgment. To address this problem, Dotto explains, sleep researchers have studied marathon yacht racers, space-station operators, sleep-lab patients, and others to discover whether workers could better benefit from short naps interspersed with lengthy work times, or from one nighttime ""anchor sleep"" combined with a briefer afternoon session. Final conclusions remain to be drawn, but evidence to date should encourage airlines to consider installing sleeping berths for their pilots, submarine commanders to modify their watch schedules, and managers of other 24-hour operations to dispense with the stigma of napping at the work site. Such long-neglected research, along with increased knowledge of the effects of light on alertness, of circadian sleep/wake rhythms, etc., should eventually help future workers get the sleep they need. An intriguing topic, but Dotto's initially captivating style soon flattens beneath a pile of repetitive data, making for some. . .sleepy reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow