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Circadian science Sleep Meme Review

We Rate Sleep Memes

Meme #1

Here we see Squidward staying up and reading instead of going to sleep. Squidward himself might smugly point out that he’s reading a book, not looking at a light-emitting screen, and use that as an excuse to feel superior. If so, he would be tragically mistaken. There are clearly lights on in the room that he’s using to read while staying up late, and that light will have an effect on his clock much in the same way light from a screen would. After all, most homes are bright enough in the evening to significantly mess up sleep-related processes, like melatonin production. Though Squidward would never accept it, his efforts to prevent circadian disruption pale in comparison to those of his neighbor Patrick, who blocks light by being a starfish who lives under a rock.

Originality: 3 out of 5. Not being able to put your phone down is a classic meme topic.

Quality: 4 out of 5. Slight cognitive dissonance caused by the “scrolling through social media” text coupled with the image of him reading a book, but it gave us a chance to talk about how room light exposure matters for circadian rhythms, which is what we’re all here for.


Meme #2

Let us start by noting that Homer’s perception of his sleep here may be skewed: many people with insomnia overestimate how long it takes them to fall asleep, and underestimate how much sleep they actually get. It may be that a more accurate version of this meme would be “me all night vs me four hours before my alarm goes off”– which is still, to be perfectly clear, a miserable experience. It’s miserable even if you’re objectively getting more than 6.5 hours of sleep per night but perceiving that you’re not sleeping much at all (also known as “paradoxical insomnia”). We love targeting sleep improvements through light exposure over here, but if you’re relating hard to this meme, you’ll probably want to get yourself some cognitive behavioral therapy.

Originality: 3/5. This, too, is a pretty typical sleep meme topic.

Quality: ⅘. He looks very cozy at the end there.


Meme #3

Oh, Leo. Leo, no. This is a terrible idea.

For starters, we know what happens to people who get four hours of sleep a night. First, they have more and more “vigilance lapses” with every passing day (4 hours of sleep a night = circles in the below, black squares = no sleep, white squares = 6 hours, diamonds = 8 hours).

A vigilance lapse means that something popped up on a screen in front of you for half a second and you didn’t even register it. This is bad if you are, for instance, driving a car.

People on four hours of sleep a night also fail to get better at subtraction and addition tasks, despite days of practice (see: circles staying flat in the below):

And yes, caffeine can counteract “getting worse and worse at things” to an extent, but so can naps. As the authors of a recent review on fatigue and caffeine write, “It is important for caffeine consumers to understand that caffeine at any dose is not a chemical substitute for adequate healthy sleep.”

Originality: 4.5/5. Nice shout out to shift workers.

Quality: 2.5/5. Inscrutable indenting decisions. Objectively bad sleep practice.