MAD DOG: Waking Up to the Truth About Sleep

There's been a lot of talk lately about how we're all sleep deprived. We're so busy working, playing, attempting to have a social life, and wondering why Amy Fisher backed out of sparring with Tonya Harding on Fox Network's Celebrity Boxing yet Paula Jones is willing to get her new nose punched in that we're not getting enough rest.

For years experts have said we should get at least eight hours of sleep a night. This is to ensure that we're mentally alert, have physical stamina, and are able to make it to work without putting our head down on the steering wheel and becoming intimate with a guard rail. Unfortunately the National Sleep Foundation says 63 percent of Americans aren't getting it. Sleep, that is. And this isn't good. According to a report from the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research (motto: "Who needs Halcion when you have our reports?"), this lack of rest is causing health and job problems.

This isn't just a concern in the United States. A study in Australia found that having too little sleep can cause many of the same effects as being drunk. They say coordination, reaction time, judgment, and the ability to award government grants to worthy projects are all impaired. On the other hand, a lack of sleep doesn't leave you with a hangover, cause you to wake up next to someone whose name you don't remember, or get your ass kicked because you asked that big guy in the bar who was wearing a CAT hat whether it means he's a pussy.

The truth is, sleep deprivation isn't the real problem. What we should be concerned about is that, thanks to sleep, we're life deprived. Think about it, if you average 7 hours of sleep a day it means you're spending 2,555 hours of each year in bed. Don't bother pulling out your calculator, that comes to 106 days. In other words, we spend nearly 30 percent of our life being unproductive, unsociable, keeping others awake by snoring, and leaving unsightly drool stains on our pillow. What a waste of time!

To put this in perspective, it's been estimated that the average person spends two weeks of his or her life kissing. A measly two weeks over an entire lifetime! I'm not sure how they came up with this figure, but it's pitiful. Since the average life expectancy in the United States is now 77, this means most of us will spend 4.36 hours per year kissing, which is 5 minutes per week, or about 43 seconds per day. Yes, that's seconds. Per day. And they're very unsloppy seconds from the sound of it.

This is sad, especially when you figure we spend more time eating, going to the bathroom, and clicking the remote trying to avoid the 16 minutes per hour of commercials the networks show in prime time. Even sadder, since women live longer than men—having a life expectancy of 79.5 years as opposed to 74.1 years—it means they're spending less KTPY (Kissing Time Per Year) than men, which is especially frustrating for them since they‘re the ones who think kissing should be a part of foreplay. Men, of course, can't spell foreplay, better yet be expected to put down the remote long enough to engage in it.

As if that's not reason enough to stay up late watching Elimidate, researchers at the University of California at San Diego say people who sleep six to seven hours a night live longer than those who get more sleep. The study found that women who sleep eight hours have a 13 percent higher risk of dying than those who sleep seven hours. If they snooze for nine hours they have a 23 percent higher risk, ten hours a night translates into a 41 percent higher risk, and anyone sleeping more than that is probably dead so it's too late to worry about it. Of course there's a fine line there, as paramedics in Brooklyn, NY found out recently when they declared Frances Foster dead from a stroke only to have her wake up a few hours later as she was being put into a body bag. Oh, so that's why her chest was moving up and down.

No matter how much sleep you get, or how much you wish you got, you should be happy you're not a giraffe. Giraffes sleep standing up and only do it for a few minutes at a time. They never lie down to sleep, though they do go into a trancelike state when they eat, much like you when you can't stop eating that bag of Jelly Bellies no matter how many times you put it away, tell yourself you won't have any more for an hour, then get up 30 seconds later to get another handful.

We should take a tip from giraffes. No, we shouldn't try to sleep standing up, even though it would mean no more drool stains on the pillow. For that matter it would mean no more pillows. What we should do is cut back on our sleep, which would give us more time to play, attempt to have a social life, and raise our available daily kissing time. But whatever you do don't spend that extra time reading research reports from the National Sleep Foundation and National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research. They'll just put you to sleep, and you wouldn't want that, would you?

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