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An Awakening on the Subject of Sleep Deprivation

An Awakening on the Subject of Sleep  Deprivation
By Dick Yarbrough
An Awakening on the Subject of Sleep  Deprivation
By Dick Yarbrough

You never know what you are going to discover in the process of churning out columns. And, of course, I have an obligation to share with you any new and exciting developments, hoping that at your next cocktail party or church social, you can dazzle the crowd by quoting a factoid you found on these pages and see the look on their faces.

I have just read a report that the Great State of Georgia is the second most sleep-deprived state in the U.S. This information is courtesy of the medical marijuana experts at Leafwell. com, a company that provides advice on the medical use of cannabis, i.e. marijuana. ( I did not inhale while reading this report.)

The study examined the average nightly sleep duration in all 50 states and the number of searches by state for more than 90 sleep-related terms on the Internet such as, “insomnia,” “lack of sleep,” and “I can’t sleep.” The report doesn’t say so but I’m wondering if one of the searches was, “How did someone with a clipboard and a stopwatch get in my bedroom?”

By the way, Georgia’s most searched for sleep-related term on the Internet was “sleep music” with an average of 4,442 searches per month. Let me suggest to our local insomniacs that they simply click on “Ray Charles Robinson, of Albany, Georgia, sings ‘Georgia on my Mind.’” If that won’t send you to dreamland, you likely aren’t from around these parts.

The report says that Hawaii is the most sleep-deprived state of all. That doesn’t surprise me. Mother Nature has not been kind to Hawaiians. A wildfire in Lahaina on the island of Maui last August killed at least 97 people and damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 structures. Now, the area is facing the potential of flash flooding and the possibility of toxic runoff into the ocean. These good people have every right to keep one eye open at night.

But what in the name of Rip Van Winkle makes Georgia the second most sleep-deprived state in the nation? The people say that a short sleep duration is prevalent in 38.2% of the state’s population. According to my trusty abacus, that’s almost 4 out of 10 of us. That also means that more than 6 out of 10 of us hit the pillow each night and go lights out.

That was the beloved Woman Who Shared My Name. You had better have told her “good night” as her head was heading downward because when it reached her pillow, she was gone. I was one of the 4 who stayed awake all night, trying to figure out how she could go to sleep so effortlessly.

Before you ask, South Dakota is the least sleep-deprived state in the nation. Not surprising. What else is there to do in South Dakota but sleep? Shovel snow? Another interesting note about the report: It is one of the few times in any state rankings on any subject where Arkansas and Mississippi aren’t dead last or close to it. In this particular survey, Mississippi ranks 29th and Arkansas 32nd in sleep deprivation. This is a good indication that the locals don’t lose a lot of sleep worrying about being last or close to it in most every state ranking published.

As for why we are so sleep-deprived here in Georgia, I can only surmise it is brought on by a case of guilt. We lie awake at night wondering why we have it so good compared to other states. For example, our state has a budget surplus today of over $5 billion. By contrast, California is running a $541 billion deficit and they are only the 12th most sleep-deprived state. Go figure.

We are blessed to have the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north and the Golden Isles to the south. We’ve got all the pecans we can eat. And plenty of sweet tea. The nation’s oldest statechartered university. Brasstown Bald and the Callaway Gardens Butterfly Center. Shrimp and grits. Movie studios. Our cup runneth over.

Maybe knowing all of this will help you sleep better tonight. I want you sharp for your next cocktail party or church social so that when somebody drones on about the economy or the weather, you can jump in and inform them that according to medical marijuana experts, there are more sleepy people in Rhode Island than in South Carolina. And then watch the look on their faces. I get drowsy just thinking about it.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at or at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139

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