I've been in New York a month now -- being ambitious, networking, developing new projects, trying to sell existing ones -- so I decided it was time for a break. I deliberately didn't schedule anything for the whole weekend, thinking I could use it to catch up on some of the things I've neglected, like apartment repairs, exercise and Facebook.
Instead I slept 16 hours.
Apparently I'm not alone. According to a recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 6 out of 10 people don't get an adequate night's sleep. One in four reported being too tired to attend work or a family event, as well as being too wiped out to have sex at night. (On a related note, the study found that African-Americans both pray more before bed and have more sex once they're in it. Whether these two phenomena have anything to do with one another requires further study.)
While having 60% of the workforce cranky and undersexed certainly affects employers, I see a different trend occurring -- The End of Leisure Time. As Tina Brown wrote in Daily Beast: "Now that everyone has a project-to-project freelance career, everyone is a hustler." You know it's tough when even Tina Brown's fancy friends are coping with what she calls "the penny-ante slog of working three times as hard for the same amount of money (if you're lucky) or a lot less (if you're not). Minus benefits, of course."
Even worse is this little tidbit from France, as reported in The Economist: the French now spend just 31 minutes eating lunch, down from an hour and 38 minutes in 1975. I'm sure it's only a matter of time that they start having less sex, as well, and that will mean The End of Western Civilization.
So what are we to do? Most days I feel like I'm juggling chainsaws while riding a unicycle on a tightrope. Psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley say that naps make you smarter and more productive. A study done with young adults showed that those who napped scored much better results on a round of tasks. Then again, that was in The People's Republic of Berkeley. I'm trying to make it in The City That Never Sleeps. Perhaps a more reasonable solution is yoga.
Participants in a study at Ohio State University reported that six weeks of just 20 minutes of yoga or meditation a day lowered their stress levels, made them more aware of external stressors and, get this, helped them sleep better.
I love this study so much I want to marry it. I try to get with the whole yoga culture -- carrying a mat around to show I'm an evolved person, staring at other people's butts for an hour-long class -- but it doesn't fit with my ambitious, networking, developing lifestyle. But 20 minutes of breathing and stretching a day to get rid of stress? That's leisure any of us can afford.
And that, my friends, is The Upside.
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