2000-2015 trends: The developed nations are making substantial changes across-the-board to better match modern institutions to human nature

(it turns out adequate sleep is more important than we give it credit for)

(latest update of this section on or about 9-26-2002)

_________by J.R. Mooneyham_________
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2000-2015 trends: The developed nations are making substantial changes across-the-board to better match modern institutions to human nature

Many of these changes have to do with sleep. Increasing global competition is encouraging many such changes for the sake of increased productivity, while frequent worker shortages are pressuring both business and government to make life safer, more convenient, and less stressful for employees/citizens. Desires for improvements in educational outcomes are also driving the changes. Convergence of these and other elements is leading to a somewhat radical restructuring of schedules in many nations now.

Perhaps another factor helping make all this a reality is that it's an easy thing for voters to understand, and politicians to promise and deliver, in the form of new legislation and regulations. Even many business interests look upon it favorably as well, for a variety of reasons. And in the years to come the nations performing such adaptive manuevers will benefit even more than they expect, often in wholly unanticipated ways.

By 2000 USAmerica will be losing $150 billion per year in employment productivity due to sleep deprivation. Those who sleep less than six hours a night suffer reduced lifespans compared to those who get at least seven hours. Regular and sustained sleep deprivation affects the body in ways similar to accelerated aging. Thus, overall health care costs are probably pushed upwards by inadequate sleep too.

-- Losing Sleep Over Fatigue By ROBERT LEE HOTZ, March 16, 2000

-- Sleep 'key to longer life'; BBC News Online

Near 33% of USAmericans are getting six hours or less sleep per night. A 1997 survey indicated one possible cause for this: 81% of the employed voiced a desire to spend more time on family and the home; 38% cut back on cleaning to gain more time, 37% on sleep.

The Millennial Mind-Set by Annetta Miller, American Demographics, January 1999

The average USAmerican adult is sleeping seven hours per every 24. 33% of adults are sleeping only 6.5 hours or less every 24. 33% of employees polled would indulge in naps at work where allowed. Only 16% of employers have such policies.

-- Scientific American: Science and The Citizen: IN BRIEF: August 2000; DATA POINTS The Need for Zzz's

Physically demanding jobs lead to a death rate from all causes twice as high as other employment, among men. The most frequent cause of death here appears to be traffic accidents, or other violent means. It's believed physical fatigue is the cause of the higher accidental death rate.

By contrast, recreational physical exertions reduce the risk of death.

Physical activity at work linked to higher risk of death Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 10 2000

The average adolescent requires up to 9.25 hours of sleep per night. And the changes of puberty make them more prone to fall asleep later and awaken later than they did before, or likely will after, this period. Thus, many teenagers are typically between a rock and a hard place in regards to getting sufficient sleep, plus learning in school, and maybe even working a job after school hours too. Even worse, they may suffer permanent mental and physical damage, or limitations on their ultimate potential for achievement from this extended period of inadequate sleep.

-- Students and sleep - perfect together By RACHEL SMOLKIN, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, September 23, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

By 2000 USAmerica will be losing $150 billion per year in employment productivity due to sleep deprivation. Those who sleep less than six hours a night suffer reduced lifespans compared to those who get at least seven hours. Regular and sustained sleep deprivation affects the body in ways similar to accelerated aging.

-- Losing Sleep Over Fatigue By ROBERT LEE HOTZ, March 16, 2000

Airline pilots suffer as much as 25 times more skin cancers than others, perhaps due somewhat to disrupted sleep patterns.

-- Pilots Have Higher Rates of Skin Cancer - Study By Patricia Reaney, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines February 16, 2000

It may be that just as economic growth allows health improvements in a given population, the opposite may also be true: that health improvements themselves can lead to economic growth.

Improvements in health increase productivity and energy on the part of a population, as well as result in less down time. Health improvements boost life expectancy, which may bring with it a greater demand for education-- since the longer the lifespan the more useful an education can be. More education leads to more productivity and higher incomes. Longer lifespans also make for increased investment, since people must plan for retirement. This expanding investment pool itself allows for more economic growth in a nation-- as well as further improvements in health...

-- Healthy nations more likely to become wealthy, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 17 2000

USAmerican high school education efforts were suffering in 1999 due in part to traditional schooling schedules being in direct opposition to adolescent human sleep requirements. Specifically, teens require up to around 9 hours per night sleep to be fully rested, but suffer from a natural sleep cycle which makes them fall asleep later at night than they did during younger years. Combine this fact with early awakening for school, and you get sleepy, irritable, and uninterested students. To make matters worse, some schools around 1999 were changing schedules to awaken students still earlier in the morning than before. Research indicated schedules needed to be adjusted for later awakenings, not earlier. Better rested students were better behaved and more alert for teachers, and making better grades, as well as suffering fewer bouts of depression. As an added bonus, later school hours reduced violent crime due to teenagers too-- as basically better rested and thinking teens tended not to make as many mistakes, were supervised by adults for a greater portion of their waking hours, and spent a larger portion of their total free time asleep rather than on the streets.

Changing education schedules to adapt to the facts of life was clearly necessary, but still many factions opposed it, partly due to the inconvenience of rearranging personal schedules, and somewhat to claims of vastly increased financial costs to all involved. However, the transition costs proved to be either minimal or even negative-- that is, some institutions actually profited with budget surpluses afterwards!

Students and sleep - perfect together By RACHEL SMOLKIN , Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, September 23, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

Getting six to eight hours of sleep per night improves learning and memory capacities, compared to getting less. In areas involving particularly challenging material, as much as a 20%-50% difference in learning and memory can occur on a daily basis between one person getting at minimum six hours sleep a night, and the other getting less.

-- Sleep longer, learn better by: Cynthia Reynolds, March 7, 2000, Discovery Channel Canada 2000

-- ABCNEWS.com : Dreams May Help Us Remember By Joseph B. Verrengia, The Associated Press, July 18, 2000

Inadequate sleep appears to be afflicting many middle-class children by the time they reach sixth grade, possibly reducing their attention spans and ability to learn. This sleep loss gradually ramps up between second and sixth grades as children typically awaken at the same times but go to sleep later and later.

-- Grade-Schoolers Grow into Sleep Loss by B. Bower, From Science News, Vol. 157, No. 21, May 20, 2000, p. 324

-- Hectic lives rob kids' sleep and health; US News (9-9-02)

More good news came in the form of a reduction in the number of teenage pregnancies, eventually also traced back to the new school schedules, which tended to keep young girls busy with non-sexual matters and supervised by adults during more of their waking hours than before. Too, better rested girls tended to make fewer bad choices in regards to sex. It turned out keeping previous generations of teens sleep-deprived actually worked something like dosing them with alcohol in terms of reducing their normal inhibitions and efficiency of thought and action. In short, groggy people don't think straight.

As of 2000 the teen pregnancy rate in USAmerica was several times higher than most other developed nations, and more like that of Russia and eastern europe. The new school schedules helped reduce the problem.

Other benefits of the new allowances for sleep being made at schools and workplaces include higher productivity and efficiency, improvements in training and education effectiveness, stress reduction, less violence, and fewer accidents and less incidence of disease in general-- which all serve to help reduce health and medical costs for those institutions so reforming their practices, while also increasing profits for the businesses involved.

-- US teen pregnancy rate higher than most nations, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 24 2000

One study shows that 17-19 continuous waking hours can slow a person's reaction time as much as 50% more than alcohol intake. Task accuracy is also worse than under the influence of the tested amount of alcohol (100 mg/dl or less). The longer subjects went without sleep, the worse they became. Note that today many people may often put this many waking hours into a day.

Fatigue-related factors are estimated to contribute to approximately 66% of auto accidents in USAmerica today.

-- Too Few Hours' Sleep Slow Responses As Much As Alcohol, Source: Center For The Advancement Of Health (http://www.cfah.org), 9/19/2000, http://www.cfah.org/website2/Newsrelease/long9-19-00.htm

At least 51% of adults at times drive when sleepy. At least 12% drive faster than usual when sleepy.

-- Scientific American: Science and The Citizen: IN BRIEF: August 2000; DATA POINTS The Need for Zzz's

-- Sleepy drivers are eight times more likely to crash; Eurekalert

-- Practice makes perfect, if you sleep on it; Eurekalert

-- Power Nap Prevents Burnout; Morning Sleep Perfects A Skill; Science Daily

-- Power naps boost work performance; New Scientist

-- Snooze Power Midday nap may awaken learning potential Science News Online, June 1, 2002

-- Missed ZZZ's, More Disease Science News Online, Sept. 7, 2002


Miscellaneous unorganized links

For Sleep-Deprived, a Dream Drug (washingtonpost.com)
The mystery of why we need to sleep; Eurekalert


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