Thursday, December 06, 2012

Just sleep more, it's easy!

So, for the last three or four days, I've had this really annoying twitch in my right eye. It comes and goes, nothing too bad, just annoying.

I was trying to figure out if there was something I could do about it. Can a warm or cold compress help, would any kind of OTC medication do any good, that kind of thing. Because I can tell it isn't anything problematic, and I'm almost certain it's just from looking at the computer too much because I've been working a lot.

I know that looking up medical advice online is a dangerous thing anyway. But you can usually separate a lot of the junk from the real knowledge relatively easily.

In this case, there were basically only two pieces of advice on every single site I checked: reduce stress and sleep more.

I had another medical issue earlier in the month, and the three different doctors during the course of the day told me I should try to reduce my stress (they didn't mention sleep, I don't think they heard me when I said I'd only slept a couple hours, there were other things on their minds).

It's made me start thinking about it, and how often in my life I've had doctors just tell me to be less stressed out and to sleep more. How often we're told that, repeatedly.

Sure, it's sound advice. We probably all need less stress and more sleep.

But it's nonsensical in a lot of ways, because at the end of the day stress and sleep schedules are widely outside of our control. There are some things we can do, but it only is so much.

Stress often comes from jobs or money, things that we can't just cut out or change or fix easily. At the moment a lot of mine comes from health care and health insurance. But all of the issues with that are pretty much out of my control. Literally an Act of Congress can't manage to take care of most of it.

In the past few months, a significant number of my friends have had problems with their living situations and had to move on short notice. Who knows how many people are currently fighting to deal with their underwater mortgages and foreclosures.

All of this unavoidable stress that so many people are under is of course causing them to have insomnia. Or they're working long hours at multiple jobs so that they can pay for things and don't have time to sleep. Not to mention that Americans all have this cult of exhaustion going on. Have you ever heard two people at a job trying to one up each other with how little sleep they've gotten or how many coffees they've had to drink to be awake. Heck, even the show I'm watching just had a joke about how "we can sleep when we're dead."

Not to mention, how many of us have had bosses that expect long hours and even extra work once you come home? We live in a society that wants us to sacrifice everything, including sleep, to get ahead. And if you don't want to make that sacrifice then you're not just punished, you're shamed and insulted. I once had a job where I had to argue with them repeatedly that it didn't matter if they offered me extra hours or overtime pay, I had other things I was doing (I was a grad student at the time, and I'm married) and that no amount of money was worth my little spare time.

If we're supposed to reduce our stress and sleep better to help our health, then maybe we need to start looking at larger problems in our society and how they're affecting us in both large and small ways.