Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2024
Injured sleep Jonathan Crary in his book 24/7 seems to blame ‘late-capitalism’, ‘neolibralism, ‘24/7’ ‘consumerism’’ and/or ‘new technology’ as potential causes for what he calls the “injuring of sleep”. He also believes sleep is being “wrecked and despoiled” by 24/7 capitalism. But is this really the case? Well poor sleep is Not just a ‘neoliberal’ problem A G/wi camp never has an uninterrupted night's sleep. There is always someone awake, adding wood to the household fire, eating a snack, seeing to a child, listening to a strange noise in the bush, or keeping watch if dangerous animals are near. Hunter and Habitat in the Central Kalahari Desert By George B. Silberbauer The Tiv "At night, they wake when they will and talk with anyone else awake in the hut.” Paul Bohannan, ‘Concepts of Time among the Tiv of Nigeria’, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, ix (1953), 253 Not just a ‘capitalist’ problem The NSW Government introduced laws in 2014 that close Sydney’s music clubs to new guests at 1.30am and ban selling alcoholic drinks after 3am. It is also not possible to buy a bottle of wine after 10pm or get a shot of alcohol after midnight. here The Egyptian Palace in Pyongyang is open nightly between the hours of 7:30 p.m. and 3 a.m. here Not just a ‘new technology’ problem “How many are there that can sit up drinking and dancing and revelling all night?” “Men are not weary of playing at Cards, or Dice all night, and cannot they watch one hour with Christ at night?” Anthony Horneck ‘The happy Ascetick; or the Best Exercise’ 1681 Not just a consumerism problem Shop till you drop In 1660 in London the shops were open until 2200, and many taverns even later. Big city, bright lights? Night spaces in Paris and London, 1660-1820 By Jonathan Conlin 2014 here In 2008 Austria modified its 2003 Öffnungszeitengesetz ("opening times law"), with the new regulations allowing stores to be open from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on weekdays, and on Saturday until 6:00 p.m. Bakeries can open 30 minutes earlier at 5:30 a.m. In practice, few stores in Canada (outside of a small number of grocery stores) remain open 24 h. In Japan most shops open at 10:00, and close at 20:00 (8 PM In the Netherlands shops are allowed to stay open until 22:00 from Monday to Saturday, however most close at 18:00 on weekdays, and 17:00 on Saturdays. Switzerland, stores will be open from 8 or 9 am to 7 or 8 pm, 10 pm one day a week United States Monday - Saturday 9 - 10 a.m. to 8 - 10 p.m. (9:00 - 10:00 to 20:00 - 22:00) Sunday 11 - 12 noon to 5 - 7 p.m. (11:00 - 12:00 to 17:00 - 19:00) 24/7 not even a modern problem On moving to London Lady Arabella adjusts to the new temporal rhythm staying out until 3am. Whereas her husband retires at 11pm “I thought, to go to Bed early and rise so, was ever esteem'd a right Practice for all People”. “My two a’clock speaks life, activity, spirit, and vigour; your eleven has a dull, drowsy, stupid, good-for-nothing sound with it. It savours much of a Mechanic, who must get to Bed betimes, that he may rise early to open his Shop. Faugh!” Early to bed and early to rise? “Beasts do it” . John Vanbrugh A Journey to London (1720) 24/7 capitalism In Poland under Communism there were 24 hour pharmacies and alcohol shops After 30 years of capitalism there are 24 hour pharmacies, alcohol shops and some supermarkets This can be seen as an evil plan by capitalists to wreck and despoil sleep except the supermarkets are pretty much empty after 9pm till 7am And remember that under communism they had no supermarkets because there was nothing to buy. Retreat from 24/7 "Paris, it's not the City of Lights anymore, it goes to sleep at 11." "The generalized law of silence that is battering down upon our events and our living spaces is soon to relegate the City of Lights to the rank of European capital of sleep” here Tesco is ending round-the-clock opening at almost 20% of its 24-hour stores as demand for night-time shopping wanes and online purchasing grows. here Retreat from 24/7 consumerism It is unclear how many pubs actually sell alcohol 24 hours a day, but the number is very small indeed. According to the British Beer and Pub Association: ‘a mere 200 pubs have been granted permission to open for 24 h[ours] and, as the Home Office will confirm, none do’ Hayward, R. (2009) ‘The Licensing Act and emergency hospital attendances’, Emergency Medicine 26(2) Briefing 15:05 Institute of Economic Affairs 2015 The Association of Licensed and Multiple Retailers said in 2008 that only two pubs used their 24 hour licence. Whatever the exact figure, 24 hour pubs are extremely rare, if they exist at all. 24/7 The only new threat to our sleep is the internet. However, despite what Crary alleges the internet can, at the individual level, be turned off. It is called the ‘off switch’ 24/7 capitalism? The vast majority of content on the internet free “Free streaming is 'killing music industry‘” here “Free porn videos and photos are killing the sex industry” “The world’s largest internet porn site transfers 29 petabytes a month, or 50 gigabytes per second, of free porn videos.” here Self-injury Humans have curtailed (“injured”) their sleep for millennia if there is something else, superficially, ‘more interesting/entertaining/virtuous’ to do. But are Google/Facebook/Amazon really going to be able to compel us to ‘wreck and despoil’ our sleep? Or is it just a novelty like the17th Century pleasure gardens of London