Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No sleep after puberty

Here's a hypothetical situation: imagine that your sons worked and saved enough money to by cars when they turned 16. Then you become a state Senator. What do you do? Try to rollback child labor laws:
Cunningham's objections extend to the current law's requirement that children 14 or 15 work no more than three hours a day on school days, no more than eight hours on a non-school day, and that they cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
"The hour restrictions are so tight,'' she said. "There are many jobs where you can work after 9 p.m.,'' such as restaurants.
St. Louis Beacon

Yeah, that makes sense. Especially since many teenagers are already sleep-deprived:
"What good does it do to try to educate teen-agers so early in the morning?" asks Maas. "You can be giving the most stimulating, interesting lectures to sleep-deprived kids early in the morning or right after lunch, when they're at their sleepiest, and the overwhelming drive to sleep replaces any chance of alertness, cognition, memory or understanding."
American Psychological Association

Has anything improved in the ten years since that was written? Not as far as I can see. Here's what will happen if you remove the 9:00 PM time limit:
She has homework and she’s supposed to get off at 8 p.m., but the shift manager needs her to stay and close up because Fred didn’t show up for work. Susie calls her mom, who protests, but the boss is adamant and Susie really wants to keep her job so mom agrees, just this once. And pretty soon “just this once” becomes the routine.
Kansas City Star

No kids by Mary Poppins' era
I can hear the counter-argument now. Something about this being a free-market system and having to bow to the poor, struggling boss. And a blank stare when you bring up the hard-fought battle for the reformaton of child labor over the last two centuries. Because of that the chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins were all of-age, although one had a very poor accent.

But it gets stupider. There's a constitutional lawyer cum Tea Party Senator in Washington claiming that child labor laws are unconstitutional:
Child labor laws are also only one of many essential protections that would evaporate in Mike Lee’s America. The same legal theory Lee uses to impugn child labor laws applies equally to the federal minimum wage and the ban on whites-only lunch counters.
Think Progress

These are the sort of people who think say that civil rights for African-Americans would have happened all by itself; we didn't need federal laws and outside agitators to make it happen. And gays aren't the new Blacks.

I don't have a job. I'm disabled. I'm both ADHD and bipolar II, a curious combination with a singular effect: I cycle every single day. I wake up "depressed" and by bed-time I'm hypomanic and can't fall asleep. All I wanted to do most of my life was sleep more and later. Thank "Bob" I didn't have to get up at 6:00 AM every day when I was in school. Some of the jobs I've had were nightmares where I only got six hours of sleep a night. I was walking around like a zombie. One night a state trooper pulled me over on the Interstate and told me that I'd drifted all the way into the left lane and back again. I had no memory of it.

In 2007 I read Delivered From Distraction by Hallowell & Ratey, the sequel to their classic book on ADHD, Driven To Distraction. They described this particular syndrome and suddenly it all began clicking into place. After decades of living with it and reading as widely as possible this was the first inkling of a real explanation I'd ever had. And it turned out to be correct.

And now I have sleep apnea, too.

No comments: