Insomnia and Its Cultures
For forty years, RM Vaughan has been fighting, and failing, to get his forty winks each night. He's not alone, not by any stretch.
More and more studies highlight the health risks of undersleeping, yet we have never been asked to do more, and for longer. And we can't stop thinking that a lack of sleep is heroic: snoozing is a kind of laziness, after all. But why, when we know more about the value of sleep, are we obsessed with twenty -four- hour workdays and deliberate sleep deprivation?
Working outward from his own experience, Vaughan explores this insomnia culture we've created, predicting a cultural collision -- will we soon have to legislate rest, as France has done? -- and wondering about the cause-and- effect model of our shorter attention spans. Does the fact that we are almost universally underslept change how our world works? We know it's an issue with, say, pilots and truck drivers, but what about artists-- does an insomnia culture change creativity? And what are the long term cultural consequences of this increasing sacriï¬ce for the ever elusive goal of 'total productivity'?
‘With his usual caustic wit and gut-churning insight, Vaughan guides us through pills, sleep clinics (where even the therapists don’t sleep) and the nightly nightmare of Restless Leg Syndrome. Interviewing long-term insomniacs, neuroscientists and Douglas Coupland, Vaughan battles an always-on culture – taking us right to the core of a dreamless empire. ’
– Redfern Jon Barrett, author of The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights
‘RM Vaughan has taken his lifelong affliction with insomnia and (dare I say it) made it funny and sexy. ’ – Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art and author of The Secret Language of Doctors
"A compelling and damning critique of modern society's inability to disconnect. "
"Bright Eyed makes a good book to curl up with on a sleepless night. "
"It is difficult to gracefully move from personal to political, but this is an honest book that asks good questions and leaves you with a vivid picture of the unpleasant and distorting nature of insomnia. "