In a wired world – should we turn off more?

Sometimes whilst travelling you can overhear discussions which are really interesting. I’m in one of those situations right now. I’m at an airport somewhere in the world and there’s some people behind me from… another country. I’ll not mention the country, but let’s see if you can guess.

For the last 50 minutes I have listened to two gentlemen talk about their sleep patterns. One has mentioned his doctors’ advice and is now on some prescription medication to allow him to sleep. The other is discussing several different types of medication he feels would work better. Both seem to get no more than 4-5 hours of sleep per night and its beginning to have an affect on their health. This is a discussion that many people have probably had, although not between men and not for this length of time… not usually.

In this world of high-stress jobs with demanding hours it’s already difficult to rest. Some take sleep medication, some have a drink. Others suffer. Now things are even worse. Constant 24/7 communication is already possible and many are given mobile devices with their job. Although its not explicitly mentioned, there’s an expectation for you to respond to that out-of-hours email instantly. The result is usually a phone vibrating, ringing or beeping right in the middle of your “down time”. A family meal, a birthday party, perhaps even a holiday.

I think sometimes, especially now that information is changing second-by-second, people are becoming a little worried about missing something, and it doesn’t even have to be something important.

Twitter is already bringing instant data feeds. The updates may seem uninteresting to many, but for the most part they suck you in. You suddenly NEED to know whether Bob finished that shed. You HAVE to find out if Lucy bought the red dress or the green one.

Facebook is an even bigger example. Updates, like Twitter, are fed into the site by your friends. You can chat, view pictures and see what they’ve been doing. You can also get yourself into trouble. Many relationships are strained after a past boyfriend or girlfriend makes contact.

So, when you’re about to doze off, some are worried about what they’re missing. Downstairs is the laptop and the phone.. sitting quietly, getting the latest Facebook updates, the latest emails, Tweets and texts. Your missing it. You’re going to miss it. You won’t be up to date.

Sleep seems unimportant.

This alone might not contribute to a lack of sleep, but combined with the sheer addiction of being connected and always available, it can cause problems.

What is the solution ? Are powerful drugs the answer? Or should we just turn everything off ? Yes. Turn it off. That’s the best solution, and it’s easy enough to do. The problem is that its all too easy to turn back on again.

Having a separation between work life and home life is important. Having a separation between your internet life and your family is even more important.