High Tech Lynching

Danger, Will Robinson.

I have been alerted by none other than the (rightwing, now left wing) Huffington Post that I am disrupting my circadian rhythms. Before reading that blog, I didn’t know I had Circadian rhythms. Now I do.

The problem is that I have turned over my life to my computer, iPod and Kindle. If at least one of them is not on, I am not at home. The first thing every morning, the computer is turned on, even before I brew my World Market Sumatra coffee. It has sunk so low that I use the computer while watching the news, ESPN, movies, or the latest updates from Stalingrad and Iwo Jima on the Military Channel.

That’s nothing. When I go to bed, I bring the iPod and the Kindle with me. Actually, they hardly ever leave the bed. My wonderful queen size bed used to be dominated by newspapers, crossword puzzles and a healthy pile of unread noir novels. Now, it is dominated by an extension cord, power cords to the devices and, of course ear buds to both devices. If you are familiar with fishing lines and how they magically entwine themselves if left alone for 12 minutes, you can imagine the rat’s nest that is my bed.

I blushingly admit that the last three or four of the last book purchases came from Amazon and were transferred instantly and magically to my magic Kindle. I usually don’t admit that in mixed company. Thus, I often read an eBook (“Bunker Hill”) on the Kindle while I am listening on the iPod to my 2,200 songs on iTunes or maybe WFAN in New York for the latest news of the Yankee collapse. I first examine the broadcasts of the Tony Kornheiser show, of course. The Orange Man has taken the summer off, leaving us Little People to fend for ourselves.

I presumed the greatest danger was falling asleep with the ear buds still in my ears, then rolling over, wrapping the wires around my neck and performing my own “high tech lynching.”

Wrong, The Huffington Post and the National Sleep Foundation (I should be working for them) now tell me.

Your laptop may rob you of much-needed rest, according to a new study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation. The non-profit’s 2011 “Sleep in America” poll suggests a correlation between the use of electronics before bedtime and widespread sleeping problems. In fact, the latest National Sleep Foundation poll found that 95 percent of Americans use some kind of electronic device within an hour before going to bed.

The poll surveyed a random sample of 1,508 Americans between the ages of 13 and 64. A whopping 63 percent of participants claimed that their sleep needs were not met during the week. This dissatisfaction may be connected to the fact that virtually everyone polled — 95 percent — reported that they surfed the net, texted or watched TV at least a few nights a week in the hour before trying to sleep.

“Technology has invaded the bedroom,” announced study task force member Charles Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., in an interview with Reuters. “Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported they routinely get less sleep than they need.” Now there is a task force I would volunteer for. They have not even touched the delicate question of those of us who take our devices to bed.

Here is the high-falutin’ warning from the Huffington Post, which I shall aggressively ignore.

“Our natural adaptation to the sun has evolved over billions of years. The power to artificially override the natural cycle of light and dark is a recent event and represents a man-made self-experiment on the effects of exposure to increasingly bright light during the night as human societies acquire technology and expand industry. In addition to resetting the circadian pacemaker, light also stimulates additional neuroendocrine and neurobehavioral responses including suppression of melatonin release from the pineal gland improving alertness and performance.

I am doomed.

“Low levels of illuminance in the blue or white fluorescent spectrum disrupt melatonin secretion. The primary human concerns with nighttime lighting include disability glare (which affects driving and pedestrian safety) and various health effects. Among the latter are potential carcinogenic effects related to melatonin suppression, especially breast cancer. Other diseases that may be exacerbated by circadian disruption include obesity, diabetes, depression and mood disorders, and reproductive problems.

I choose to ignore these warning. It’s much too late for reproductive problems, but I am tubby (so far, I have collapsed two chairs and a Jane Karker deck) and have high blood sugar. My only mood disorder occurs when I run into David Grima. As for sleep interruption, nothing wakes me, except for that falling willow tree in the middle of the night. I have more trouble staying awake than falling asleep.

Plus, I can stay in bed until 9 a.m. if I want … wrapped up in my Kindle and iPod power cords and ear buds, checking for “Brain” Willson’s bird pics, e-mails and Facebook pronouncements.

I can’t help it.