Monthly Archives: September 2013


Russell Foster: Why do we sleep?

Ever since I had a temporary shift in sleeping pattern, the topic of “Sleep!  What is it good for?”  has been bouncing on and off as a topic of interest and further study.


Posted just recently was Foster’s TED Talk on Sleep.

Total Time: 21 minutes, 47 seconds

Number of views so far: 1,049,206

The topic of sleep is not particularly new among TED Talks, it has been covered before by other speakers.  However, I find that similar to dieting/exercising fads, there exists the ‘sleep fad’ that on a more understated level, there are times when it becomes a thing to address ‘napping it out’.


The most basic identifier I can point out for this kind of ‘fad’ is the introduction and general social awareness of sleep apnea. 

No doubt, the original observers of sleep apnea probably thought the unconscious body was being inhabited by dragons and demons.  (also marked in Dicken’s The Pickwick Papers as the first literary character to have it)  Even to this day, I’m willing to bet that people would use that description except its always becoming louder, more drooling and with excessive amounts of farting.

All of this could be framed in this moment of Adam Sandler’s Little Nicky:

Where this is a light-hearted scene, sleep apnea today is recognized as a form of social crime that is worse than stabbing a basket of puppies.   People can be instructed to seek treatment as if there is a cure to snoring.   (Although from what I’ve been told by friends who have sleep apnea machines, these machines are just as loud as the snoring itself) 


Nonetheless, treatment centers do exist and the ‘treatment of bad sleep’ has become an industry of its own.  With that industry, you have access to measurable numbers, advertising of services and the typical peaks and lows of economy and social attention.

Recently I’ve been reading upon a myriad of posts/articles about sleep. 

Here is one of those ‘factoid’ articles that was quite impressive.  It touches upon some of the same subject matter Foster speaks about in his talk.

In combination with another interest I’ve personally picked up recently was that I’ve been training myself to run. 

And running I have, first training up to 5km and now recently working on finishing 10km sessions.  A large surprise I’ve found is that I have had what I describe as ‘little effect’ to my general size.  I’m a big boy and despite the fact I’m statistically making good times, its still akin to the Michelin man pound pavement scaring small children and terrifying the raccoons in the neighborhood.

However, my times are good.  Really good.  I have delusions of being this fat guy on the podium holding up the trophy while making speeches of “you people would run faster if you weren’t so skinny” and then eating something from my pocket mid speech.

Throw in the notion that I clock about four hours of sleep a night, it makes me wonder.

After all, we lose weight when we are sleeping. 

Ergo, the idea of following a sleep diet.

There’s a book about the notion (“The Overnight Diet”) also a link to some coverage:

This will make an interesting self study.  First, I’m going to see if I can alter my sleeping pattern to 9-10 hours a night (that will require a complete change to my out of work schedule) in order to get the necessary number of hours in. 

(Side note: This also makes a chance to revisit “Lucid Dreaming” aka the perception that I’m controlling my dreams while having them.  When I was a teenager I found this topic highly interesting, the most successful method was via “self proclamation” every time I was about to ‘hit the hay’, be it between wakeful moments or start of the evening)

In any case, let’s see what happens.  If anything remarkable occurs, it’ll be included in a future EDTalksTed post.

Foster makes the recommendation at the end to get more sleep.  Will you?  Will you plan to?  Or will it be something you’ll need to ‘sleep on it’ first?


Leave a comment

Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Uncategorized