Phones don’t steal sleep, voice mails do
Cell phones have been blamed for everything from fender benders to the eradication of the world's bee population. But a recent study by Sweden's Karolinska Institute has hit the malevolent nail on the obvious sleep-deprived head.
"Experts" now say cell phones trigger insomnia by taxing the brain's "stress system." How fast can you text-message "duh"?
But anyone with a half-awake brain knows it's not the signals that get under our gray matter at bedtime -- it's the frantic, decorum-free messages they deliver.
That's why sleep for this Digital Slob begins with the ritual pressing and holding of the red button on my Motorola RAZR.
To prove my theory, what follows is an abridged version of what was waiting for me on the other side of an extended stay in dreamland one day -- 12 messages that would clearly interfere with REM sleep had I allowed them to break through:
(Beep) Mother: Curt, it's your mother. The University of Tennessee called. They say you still owe them $45 because you didn't return your cap and gown. I think it's in a box in the attic. If I feel up to it, I'll go up and look for it. If I find it, it'll save you $45. Talk to you later. Love you.
(Beep) Wife: Where are you? My class is over, and you're supposed to take me to the dentist.
(Beep) Friend: Hey Curt, what's up? Could you Western Union $1,500 to the North Hodge Circuit Court? I'd bother other friends, but I only get the one call and you're the only one with voice mail. Stay cool.
(Beep) Mother: Well, I found a cap and gown, but it's green. I think it's from high school. Your mascot was a gator, right? Aren't gators green or mostly green? I bumped my leg a bit on the way down, so I won't try again today. Maybe I'll call your brother to help me later. Love you.
(Beep) Wife: I hate you. I told you 100 times I had an appointment on Tuesday.
(Beep) Brother: Well, we're in the emergency room. Mom's getting X-rays. Her ankle is the size of a cantaloupe. What kind of idiot makes an 80-year-old woman climb into an attic to save $45? Why can't you ever clean up your own mess? You're a real piece of work. I've got a job, you know!
(Beep) Wife: PICK! UP! THE! (garbled) PHONE!
(Beep) Sister: Just calling to relay an update on Mother. It's just a sprain. Just playing peacemaker, but you might want to call your brother and apologize. Maybe reimburse him for his lost wages. The $45 you're saving for that cap and gown sounds about right. You know, not everybody gets to go to grad school, and he works so hard.
(Beep) Wife: I'm taking a taxi. You owe me $20. Forget about going to the movies Friday.
(Beep) Friend: Dude, better make it $3,000. Judge Senile misread my priors. At least they let me make another call.
(Beep) Wife: OK, today is Monday, not Tuesday. I came to the dentist for no reason. Now I have to take a taxi back. I'll pay this but you still owe me $20. Don't argue! I have a toothache!
(Beep) Verizon: Our records indicate that your account is past due. To avoid interruption in service, please pay $127.97 immediately.
Hmm. Tough call. Do you know how many pillows you can buy for $127.97?