Sunday, February 3

The worse the collective sleep patterns, the crazier the society

In the old days, humanity had 1 category for craziness -- craziness -- with the causes breaking down into roughly 4 categories: mischevious spirits, vengeful demons, annoyed gods, and the machinations of black magicians. Today, in place of that simple system, psychiatry has identified more than 200 categories of mental disorders, with some of the more "common" ones listed as "depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders." 

Psychiatrists prefer the term "disorder" to "crazy." Yet all one has to do, as I've done during the past two weeks, is pay close attention to politically-related news and discussion to be aware that there are now societies with a large number of people who can appear sane enough or take enough pills to hold down a job but are actually batshit crazy.   

The number seems to be increasing, if not skyrocketing, if any indication can be found in the British government's expressed concern last year about worsening "collective mental health" in the United Kingdom, a worsening broadly noted in the society, and which has activated the bureaucratic antibodies.

An article about the issue, Our Collective Mental Health Is Getting Worse — But Why? ticks off various reasons to blame the British medical system's paltry attention to the mental health crisis but allows that lifestyles can also be a factor:
Modern, Western lifestyles undermine mental health. Unhealthy diets, lack of physical exercise, loneliness, family break up, childhood neglect and trauma, the pressure of competition in schools and the workplace — the list goes on. Increased investment and improvements to services will never be enough to repair the damage caused by the way we live today.
However, as the findings roll in from brain researchers around the world, it's becoming increasingly clear there's no way a society can be reasonably sane if large numbers of its people have crummy sleep patterns. 

The findings are shoving science from observed correlations between mental disorders and poor sleep to cause-and-effect; i.e., chronic poor sleep can be a causative factor in a host of mental disorders.  

The red flag was raised as early as the 1970s when many executives whose business kept them zig-zagging by jet between time zones developed full-blown psychoses. The cause-and-effect discovery by scientists hired by globalized corporations launched blackout curtains and a host of other tactics to help globetrotting employees offset the effects of chronic jet lag.  

Although the discovery and attendant warnings about sleep deprivation percolated into Western mainstream media, here we are today with few prepared to confront the implications of that early research and the recent findings. 

One reason is that the emphasis quickly shifted from psychosis to poor physical health. In other words, doctors didn't go around telling medical reporters that the whole damn society would go crazy if people didn't get enough of the right kind of sleep; instead, they emphasized the role of sleep in maintaining good physical health. 

All that accomplished was to galvanize the chronically sleep deprived to search for offsets -- power naps, megavitamins, herbal recipes, meditation, etc. -- in the attempt to compensate for wrecking their circadian cycle. 

The quest became a mania in South Korea, one of the most sleep-deprived societies in the world, and thus sleeponomics.  

Yet mental illness has become so widespread in South Korea the topic has its own article in Wikipedia, which examines all and everything as causative factors except en masse chronic sleep deprivation. The closest Wikipedia gets to the topic is to note a finding published in 2002:
17% of the South Korean population has insomnia, which is a rate comparable to that of insomnia in the United States.[23]
Without reading the study, I'd question whether it makes a clear distinction between insomnia -- the inability to sleep -- and a lifestyle choice leading to chronic sleep deprivation. 

In any case, nothing I've come across so far in the literature indicates the South Koreans are considering that there's a direct, cause-and-effect connection between their widespread mental disorders and famous sleeplessness.

There would be good reasons for South Koreans to refrain from looking for any such connection; it would be the same in the U.K., here in the USA, and any other highly urbanized society that depends on global trade and consumerism. 

Yet while such societies can get by with large numbers under treatment for poor physical health -- that's what the medical and pharmaceutical industries are for -- it's something close to auto-genocide if they normalize practices bound to drive large numbers of their people crazy.

That's where we are today. That's the greatest threat humanity faces today. 

The really bad news is that this is not only about getting more hours of sleep -- something the sleeponomics sales pitches overlook. It's also about the type of sleep. Short yourself on REM sleep and you're asking for big trouble. 

I'll close with remarks from a Pundita reader in response to my January 2 posting of a transcript at Business Insider, which I titled "The Scariest Warning Out There To Get Enough Sleep" (actually the warning in this post should be  scarier but the other is from a bona fide sleep expert):
ATM said...
Getting enough sleep is critical, but it should be pointed out that it is not simply a question of getting a specified number of hours, it must be the right kind of sleep.

For example:
Experiencing sufficient REM sleep is essential for normal functioning, both sleeping and waking. The symptoms of insufficient REM sleep include mental problems, including impaired memory, hallucinations, mood swings, and inability to concentrate. Physical problems observed include lowered core body temperatures, impaired immune systems, and in extreme cases, death.
End Quote 
I suspect that the number of images that one views during screen time may interfere with [normal]  memory formation. I recommend turning images off.
In response to my two-part question about his second remark he wrote:
Q: 1.I assume you mean ad images on internet sites.....2.And by shutting them off I assume you mean using an ad blocker; if my guess is wrong, or if additional imagine blocking can be done, please let me know.
A: 1.Yes, what I think is happening is that ads force us to multitask while reading and multitasking is known to lower IQ.
IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.
End Quote
I suspect that some categories of screen time involve frequent multitasking and the way that it lowers IQ is by damaging short term memory. It would be nice if a study made an attempt to isolate causation, instead modern scientist[s] seem to vaguely wave their hands as if any screen was a work of witchcraft stealing the [soul]. If information is not kept long enough in short term memory it will not make it into long term memory where connections between memories are made.

2.Yes in theory, however ad blockers do not work very well because they are detected and many sites force you to shut them off.
If you are on linux you can use a Text Browser like Lynx. If you are on Windows you might use Browsh with Firefox, which gives your a browser 1997 feel except with better fonts. Browsh is not detected as an ad blocker because it is a post processing Firefox input.
A simple solution is to turn off javascript.
Except that may remove more information from a site than you want and is also detected.
It was once quite easy to navigate the internet with a pure text browser, but the internet lords are making it very hard for the blind these days. Text readers or brail readers for the blind only work well when you can extract ham from the spam on a site.

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