‘wild nights’ offers a history of sleep (and sleeplessness) – the new york times

The night before I stopped sleeping, I slept. Fast food and restaurants This is something I try to explain to any well-meaning person who asks about my mysterious, pigheaded, yearslong case of insomnia. Restaurants american food It came on abruptly. American food restaurants It was precipitated by no crisis I could discern.


Worst fast food restaurants It was not the culmination of many years of poor or varied sleep. Fast food restaurants usa One day, I simply closed my eyes and nothing happened. Restaurants and fast food It was as if I’d been poisoned.

Whenever a self-help book about sleep crosses my desk, I toss it. Most fast food restaurants I already know what it says. Fast food restaurants in america Not getting enough: Bad. Top fast food restaurants 2016 Pills: Avoid. Fast food restaurants in my area Sunlight: Essential. What fast food restaurants are open But when I saw Benjamin Reiss’s “Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World,” I lunged for it, and it wouldn’t surprise me if my fellow travelers in exhaustion had the same response. Famous fast food restaurants Certainly, strangers reacted favorably to Reiss while the book was still in progress. Best fast food restaurants in the world As he writes in his epilogue: “Something about becoming the Sleep Guy seems to have made me a magnet for interesting divulgences and unusual conversations.”

Most people, even those who sleep well, have at least one story about a brutal cage match with Morpheus.

What makes “Wild Nights” so liberating is that it is descriptive, not prescriptive. Top 10 worst fast food restaurants It does not hector. How many fast food restaurants in the us It barely engages with the science of slumber at all. How many fast food restaurants in america It aims, rather, to describe the social history and evolving culture of sleep — through literature (Reiss is an English professor at Emory University), through ethnographies, through old diaries and memoirs and medical texts. Cheap fast food restaurants near me Continue reading the main story

I wish the quality of this book didn’t jiggle like a sine curve. Close fast food restaurants near me Only every other chapter, or thereabouts, pops with insight. Closest fast food restaurants near me The others stray too far from the subject or hew too closely to the familiar. All fast food restaurants near me I already know that the 24/7 demands of the information economy conspire against sleep. Local fast food restaurants near me I certainly do not need Reiss’s analysis of Kanye West’s video “Famous,” which includes this spoonful of jargon-flavored goo: “This particular bit of public, collective sleeping practically sacralizes fame.” Photo

But let’s focus on what’s eye-opening about “Wild Nights,” including Reiss’s very premise: “Virtually nothing about our standard model of sleep existed as we know it two centuries ago.”

Sleep was once social. Best fast food restaurants near me Families slept in common rooms; traveling strangers often shared the same bed. Healthy fast food restaurants near me The 18th-century diarist Samuel Pepys went so far as to rank his favorite bedmates. Top 10 fast food restaurants in the world (Fine conversation generally put a fellow in good stead.) Only after the Industrial Revolution, when reformers expressed concerns over the cleanliness of crowded living arrangements, did sleep become a “privatized” affair.

Yet solitary sleeping generated problems of its own. Chinese food restaurants near my location Moralists panicked over masturbation. Exotic food restaurants near me (During the 19th century, a small market of appliances discouraging it, like erection alarms and penis cases, bloomed.) Neurotic worries over children’s sleep grew. Food restaurants Dr. Fast food and restaurants near me Benjamin Spock, the cuddly child-rearing eminence of the mid-20th century, recommended securing kids in bed with a loop of badminton net.

The worst problem of all? Insomnia. Fast food restaurants near me open now According to Reiss, writers in the 19th century remarked repeatedly on a rise in sleeplessness. Fast food restaurants near me open 24 hours “As nations advance in civilization and refinement, affections of the nervous system become more frequent,” wrote the neurologist William Alexander Hammond in his 1872 book, “Sleep and Its Derangements.” (The titles of the old medical texts cited in “Wild Nights” are splendid.)

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Industrialization did not just privatize sleep. Fast food restaurants open now It also consolidated it and then shoehorned it into rhythms better suited to commerce and railway travel than the rhythms of the seasons — or our bodies’ own needs. Fast food restaurants open today We know that before the machine age, people slept in a variety of ways, including (famously) “segmented sleep,” or sleep in two shifts. Fast food restaurants open late But with industrialization, we became servants of clock time, “a time newly homogeneous across season, region or profession.”

The most harrowing parts of “Wild Nights,” however, are not about the great loss of sleep diversity. Fast food restaurants open on easter They’re about sleep inequality, for want of a better term. Restaurants american fork Sleep is supposedly a great equalizer — “th’indifferent judge between the high and low,” as the Elizabethan poet Philip Sidney once wrote — but Reiss makes it achingly clear that sleep is anything but democratically distributed. Restaurants american fork utah Or interpreted.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the institution of slavery. Restaurants fast food near me Frederick Douglass wrote that “more slaves are whipped for oversleeping than any other fault.” Slaves slept in squalor and were never permitted sufficient rest; yet somehow, Thomas Jefferson took a slave’s tendency to fall instantly asleep as evidence not of bone-weariness, but intellectual inferiority — the slave lacked introspection.

Reiss has a fine eye for quotes, whether it’s Marcel Proust remembering his childhood loneliness at bedtime or Henry David Thoreau, afflicted with terrible insomnia, lamenting the freneticism of the industrialized world: “Hardly a man takes a half-hour’s nap after dinner, but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, ‘What’s the news?’ as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels.”

Yet sometimes Reiss overindulges his penchant for literary analysis, simply using sleep as an excuse to riff on authors he loves. American food restaurants near me Embedded throughout “Wild Nights” is also a nostalgia, no doubt influenced by Thoreau (whom he calls the book’s “guiding spirit”), for a time when our bodies were synchronized with the seasons, unchained from the adamantine demands of the clock.

But the days of candles and oil lamps didn’t necessarily guarantee a good night’s rest. Restaurants and fast food near me As the author acknowledges, insomnia is an ancient problem, for which there have been a staggering variety of proposed cures over the centuries — including the strategic application of one sheep lung to each side of the head.

And on occasion, Reiss’s perspective becomes so narrow it brings to mind that old aphorism “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” To a writer about sleep, everything looks like an uncomfortable bed. What fast food restaurants are open today At one point Reiss declares that “it’s not too much to speculate” whether the solitary confinement of children to their own rooms was “one of the hidden sources of the rebellious youth movements that marked the late 20th century.”

What does remain certain is that humans will continue to try to subdue sleep. What fast food restaurants are open right now If putting children to bed by themselves was once unfathomable to us, what might the next unthinkable development be? Reiss writes about a NASA-financed project that explored inducing astronauts into a “prolonged torpor” for a mission to Mars. List of fast food restaurants near me It didn’t make much headway. Chinese food restaurants around me But researchers are still working on the possibilities of human hibernation, and maybe even losing sleep over it.

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