How Much Is a Good Night Sleep?

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How much are you willing to pay for a good night sleep? A hundred dollars? Few hundreds? A thousand dollars?

Few nights ago, I was “rudely” awakened by a phone call. It was a weekend night, and it was 2 o’clock in the morning. And I was not even on-call!

The call was from our answering service, telling me that they cannot get hold of my partner who was supposed to be on-call. They also tried some other partners, but no luck. So they called me. Lucky me, I answered.

So even I was not on-call, I took care of what needed to be done. The trouble was the calls never stopped. I ended up admitting a total of 5 patients into the ICU in a short span of the unholy hours of the morning and I answered calls in 3 different hospitals the rest of the time I should be snoozing.

What happened to the one on-call? There was a snowstorm that night, and at that time, I was also concern if something happened to him. Anyway, I would not divulge any further details on that here, except that he was not abducted by the aliens.

You might say, I should have turned off my phone, which I was tempted to do. But people lives were on the line, as these patients were critically ill, and needed somebody to care for them. So I just suck it up.

That night, if only I could find somebody else to take the call, I was willing to pay more than a hundred dollars, so I could go back to sleep even for just a couple of hours more.

Ensuring a good night sleep is a big business. People are willing to shell out even several hundreds of dollars for a good mattress or bed. Come to think that you will spend a third of your lifetime in bed, why not get a good one. People also spend billions of dollars yearly for sleep medications. Yes, that’s billion with a B!

The cost of bad sleep is staggering too. In a study published in Time not too long ago, it was estimated that the productivity lost from workers in the US who are sleep deprived is about 63 billion a year. Again that is billion with a B!

One group of people who can suffer from sleep deprivation are people who travel a lot for work. From the changing time zones and dealing with jet lag, to the fatigue of travel alone, and to sleeping in different places or beds other than their home, all contribute to this. I’m sure they are more than willing to pay top dollars to travel business class or book in a decent hotel just to secure a good night rest. That’s a multibillion-dollar business too.

sleeping in the city that never sleeps

Last time I went home to the Philippines, I was on-call on the weekend before the day that I flew back to Manila. Knowing that I would be working for 3 days and 2 nights straight that weekend, and come Monday, I would be embarking on an almost 24 hours travel (total of 17 hours of flight time on 3 plane rides, and 6 hours of layover in airports), I just could not imagine my body taking the toll of that travel, after being on-call. So I was willing to pay a little more for a better night/day sleep on the airplane. The few inches of space and the few degrees of recline was worth it.

People with untreated sleep disorders and people who are chronically sleep deprived would do anything to get a better sleep. I know they do, for I deal with them everyday. They are like zombies in The Walking Dead. So getting a good night rest for them is something to die for. Sorry, pun intended.

If you are always not getting enough rest at night, over time you will pay for it dearly. For you pay it with your health. Poor health that is.

Ironically, doctors who should be giving advice on how to have a good night sleep, are among the most sleep deprived people in the world, according to a national survey. That may include me. A sleep-starved sleep specialist?

“Physician, heal thyself!” Or in my case, please just let me sleep.


PS. I’m keeping my dream alive. So I’m going back to sleep.

(*photo: most expensive condo in New York city, from

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