The Economist – Dream obituary’

The Economist | Perchance to dream

 There seemed nothing much wrong with Stanford, as far as William Dement could see. To someone like him, who had left New York in January 1963 with his car buried in snow, this university—with its palms, its Spanish-colonial buildings and its skies of unbroken blue—looked like paradise. He and his wife strolled about and ate ice creams, in January, in a state of wonder.

Yet all was not quite perfect. When he made a scientific study of the students later, he found that 80% were dangerously sleep-deprived. That did not surprise him. In America, the problem was general. Adults longed for the sweet, peaceful slumber of children; but night after night they tossed and turned, lay awake for hours, contended with continually restless legs, and faced the new day feeling horrible. Worse, they woke up in debt: a debt of sleep, which like the financial kind was cumulative, making them more and more unhealthy until, at worst, they could barely function.

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