Random Friday Question: Sleepy Days of Summer
One of the abiding myths of adult life is the notion that somehow things will slow down in summer. We're so conditioned by the idyllic, lazy summers of our youth that we retain the belief that the months when school is not in session will provide relief from the tensions and long hours of the rest of the year's rat race.
Would that it were so. Other than the fact that most Americans choose to take their vacations during the summer, there's not much evidence that summers really provide much of a change in our daily schedules. In these productivity-crazed times, there's no sign that employers are any less eager for work to occur in summer than they are the rest of the year.
But there is more sunlight in summer, and there does seem to be one way in which summer life is significantly easier and more pleasant: I don't have good data to support this, but my sense is that people sleep longer in summer. So, today's Random Friday Question: Does summer afford you the chance to sleep more, and do you take advantage of that?
Here's the theory: For many adults, it's the insanely early start times of many school systems that drive families to cut way back on sleep. (The research on the benefits of later start times is pretty compelling, yet schools tend to cling to the early starts because--I kid you not, this is really the reason they give-- it's too much of a pain to rejigger their bus schedules.)
Come summer, kids are suddenly able to sleep later--most day camps, interestingly, manage to open one or two hours later in the morning than most schools insist on as their start time. When the kids can sleep later, so often can the parents. Voila: Everybody can stay up a bit later to enjoy long summer evenings and grab some extra winks at the same time.
The various studies on how much we sleep don't focus on seasonal differences, but they do lament our tendency to shave off sleep as a way to get more done. That's not about to change, but there are efforts to shift when we sleep toward a more civilized set of hours. Summer's the model for how that would work, and correct me if I'm wrong, but most folks seem to crave these few weeks of later awakenings. Your turn....
By Marc Fisher |
June 29, 2007; 8:02 AM ET
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