How Not To Prepare For A Good Night's Sleep

Doctors tell us we are a sleep deprived nation. Too many of us get too little REM sleep at night, affecting our next day's calm and productivity. The reasons are many, but the easiest to manage is that TV remote.

Tens of millions of us use it to end our day with the 10 O'clock news. It has something to do with 'being informed.' But in fact, the information from10:01 to 10:27 is always the very same litany of the people and places in town to be afraid of. [The closing 3 minutes are inevitably the cute human interest story that is supposed to neutralize the panic generated by the opening 27].

How's that working out for you restless sleepers....?

The New York Times, which itself deals in daily panic, reports only 7% of the local 10 O'clock news is devoted to government and politics, while 40% is taken up with segments on local crimes, gangs, fires, weather, sports, traffic and whatever celebrity happens to be in town. [Some stations actually masthead their 10 O'clock report as news-you-can-use].

When something becomes a social ritual -- and the 10 O'clock news is one of them -- you have to ask yourself: Why? Take your choice. Curiosity...duty....habit....closure. Whatever it is, it's not doing your REM sleep any good. This miasma of mayhem and blood mostly corrodes the civic spirit and any lingering hopes we possess better angels. Instead, we are nightly reminded of what we would like most to forget. That our civics teacher was right: "You're not living up to your potential!"

However, if you decide to giggle rather than gag yourself to sleep, the news is immediately followed by the clowns -- Letterman, Leno and Fallon -- reminding us life is too serious to take so seriously.

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