Adam Ruins Sleep

Dec 03 2018

In this episode, Adam has a rude awakening for everything you thought you knew about sleep (or lack of it), from the mattress industry to supposedly lazy teens to sleep aids. Here are his sources.


“The mattress industry intentionally makes mattress shopping as confusing as possible.”

Timothy Lee. “Mattress Stores Want To Rip You Off. Here’s How To Fight Back.” Vox, 10 Aug 2015.

“But then mattress stores would just remove the tag. So in 1958, the government made it illegal.”

Matt Soniak. “Is It Really Illegal TO Remove Your Mattress Tag?” Mental Floss, 18 Jul 2012.

“At Macy’s it’s a Simmons Beautyrest Recharge Allie. At Sears it’s a Beautyrest Recharge Devonwood Luxury. At it’s a Beautyrest Recharge Lyric Luxury.”

Timothy Lee. “Mattress Stores Want To Rip You Off. Here’s How To Fight Back.” Vox, 10 Aug 2015.

“Manufacturers make up ‘special’ mattress features to jack up prices, even if they do nothing to improve your sleep.”

Seth Stevenson. “Going To The Mattresses” Slate, 23 Nov 2000.

“Retailers profit off your confusion by regularly marking up prices 50% or more. In one case, a $300 mattress was priced at $3000. That’s a 900% markup!”

Utpal Dholakia. “Why Are There So Many Mattress Stores In America?” Psychology Today, 22 Sep 2015.

“More than 60% of all mattresses sold in America are made by the same two manufacturers... “

Shanthi Rexaline. “Mattress Market Cozying Up To Consolidation.” Benzinga, 20 Jan 2017.

“With materials from the same suppliers... “

Cord Blomquist. “More Money For Your Mattress.” Competitive Enterprise Institute, 3 Jan 2009.

“In mattress stores owned by the same company!”

Kyle Hagerty. “Mattress Firm’s Expansion Left It With Too Many Stores Too Close Together. Can It Survive The Correction?” Bisnow, 11 Dec 2017.

“You can find plenty of memory foam mattresses in the store for the same price... “

Sleep Like The Dead. “Mattress Price Comparison”, 20 May 2018.

“Online mattresses are often made by the same subcontractors the brick and mortar stores use.”

Kevin Purdy. “Why Startup Mattresses Cost Less” The Wirecutter, 4 May 2016.

“When one popular sleep blogger was sued by Casper, he wound up having to put his entire site up for sale -- and CASPER bought it.”

Jason Del Rey. “Casper Went To War With A Popular Mattress Review Site – Then Financed Its Takeover.” Recode, 23 Sep 2017.

“The older you get, the less sleep you need. When you’re born, you need 16-20 hours per day. By the time you’re an adult, you only need 7.”

Division of Sleep Medicine. “Changes in Sleep With Age.” Harvard Medical School, 18 Dec 2007.

“Teenagers aren’t wired to get sleepy until 11PM.”

Ruthann Richter. “Among Teens, Sleep Deprivation an Epidemic.” Stanford Medicine News Center, Oct 2015.

“Before the 70s, most schools started at 9AM, and had separate bus fleets for elementary, junior high, and high school students.”

Mimi Kirk. “Suburban Sprawl Stole Your Kids’ Sleep.” CityLab, 23 Mar 2017.

“And car crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Teen Drivers: Get The Facts.” 29 Jan 2018.

“But school boards, parents, and local politicians don’t want to.”

Stephen Wall. “Is School Bell Ringing Too Early For Sleepy Students? Some Say Yes.” The Press-Enterprise, 13 May 2017.

“You know those pills have some pretty hairy side effects, even hallucinations... “

Allison McCabe. “The Disturbing Side Effect of Ambien, the Number 1 Prescription Sleep Aid.” Huffington Post, 15 Jan 2014.

“You only think you need 8 STRAIGHT hours of sleep because 200 years ago, humans actively CHANGED our sleep patterns!”

Roger Ekirch, At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, W. W. Norton and Company, 2005.

“But once artificial light was invented, our wake-up times were no longer dictated by whether it was light or dark outside!”

Jesse Barron. “Letter of Recommendation: Segmented Sleep.” The New York Times, 31 Mar 2016.

“Soon, as a society, we started to consider the second sleep unnecessary and lazy.”

BackStory Podcast, On The Clock, 6 Mar 2016.

“We demand eight hours as a standard to keep!”

Gabriel Roth. “The Eight Hour Sleep Session is Not What You Need.” Slate, 12 Nov 2015.

“We SHOULDN’T be treating it like a medical condition -- but we do all the time.”

Maurice M. Ohayon. Nocturnal Awakenings and Comorbid Disorders in the American Population. Journal of Psychiatric Research 43.1 (2008).

“Between 1993 and 2007, prescriptions for sleep drugs like Ambien grew 21 times more rapidly than sleeplessness complaints.”

Mairead Eastin Moloney et. al, “The Medicalization of Sleeplessness: A Public Health Concern.” American Journal of Public Health 101.8 (2011).

“Most sleep aids are designed for when you need eight uninterrupted hours of sleep. If you take a pill and sleep for less than that, it’s the same as driving drunk.”

Tiffany Chao. “Why Driving And Sleep Drugs Don’t Mix.” ABC News, 14 Aug 2012.

“That’s why people prescribed sleeping pills are twice as likely to be in a car crash.”

“The Problem With Sleeping Pills.” Consumer Reports, 5 Jan 2016.

“Sominex, ZzzQuil, Tylenol PM and Advil PM all wreak havoc on your liver and kidneys with cumulative use...”

“Is It Safe To Regularly Take Tylenol PM?” Consumer Reports, 5 Jun 2014.

“And can even put users at higher risk for dementia.”

Dennis Thompson. “Many Misuse Over-The-Counter Sleep Aids.” CBS News, 30 Dec 2016.

“One study even found that people who take sleeping pills were 5 times as likely to die, and 35% more likely to develop cancer as non-users.”

Shelly L. Gray et. al. “Cumulative Use of Strong Anticholinergics And Incident Dementia.” JAMA Internal Medicine 175.3 (2015).

“For one, many over-the-counter melatonin supplements are ten times the recommended dosage.”

Krithika Varagur. “Read This If You Take Melatonin To Sleep At Night” Huffington Post, 18 Mar 2016.

“They’re addictive, and long-term use will make it harder for you to sleep.”

Lily Carollo. “A Sleep Scientist On The Vicious Cycle of Insomnia And Sleeping Pills.” The Cut, 20 Oct 2017.

For More On This Topic

How We Got to Now is a documentary series based on a book that delves into the impact that precise timekeeping and artificial light had on human lives, brushing upon many topics explored in the episode.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker is a neuroscientist’s readable investigation into the science of, well, you get it.