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Drawn Off Topic: Comedian Jeremy Hotz on sleep deprivation (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Drawn Off Topic: Comedian Jeremy Hotz on sleep deprivation (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

DRAWN OFF TOPIC

Comedian Jeremy Hotz on sleep deprivation Add to ...

Jeremy Hotz is a Canadian actor and standup comedian. He won a Gemini award for his work on The Newsroom. His Magical Misery Tour includes stops in Toronto on March 9, Thunder Bay on March 11 and Calgary on March 13.

There are heavy sleepers, light sleepers, fitful sleepers – how would you classify yourself?

I’m an intermittent sleeper.

What does that mean?

It means I sleep when my body lets me. Sometimes, with travelling around and the time differences and everything, I don’t sleep. Like last night. I got about two hours of sleep.

Are you feeling the effects?

No. I guess I’m used to it. I just sleep when I can.

How many hours do you usually get, and how many do you need?

When I’m able to sleep, I can go for a good 16 hours! And then I can also just go on two.

A recent Harvard Medical School study estimated that chronic sleep deprivation costs U.S. businesses $63.2-billion a year in lost productivity. Sleep – enough sleep – is seen as vital to both personal and national health.

I think it’s heavily important, don’t you?

Well, yes, but you don’t practise what you’re preaching – two hours last night …

Oh, no. I’d just lie there because of the different time changes and just stare at the ceiling. There’s nothing you can do about it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been so overtired you’re almost in tears and going, “Come ON! Sleep!” It’s incredible. You get up and just walk around. What I like to do is fill the bathtub up with a quarter inch of warm water and just walk around in it. It doesn’t do anything, but I like to do that. I swear!

Night owl or early riser, which are you?

Night owl. So’s my Mom. I’m convinced it runs in the family.

Are you a napper?

Sometimes, yeah. But I find it really difficult to sleep in a van or something. I like being in an actual bed.

We are said to sleep for a third of our life. If one lives a good, long life, isn’t that 30 years of living wasted?

No. To sleep, perchance to dream. You’re still alive. Without getting out of your own head for a while and having rest, you’re going to kill yourself. Although my grandfather used to say sleep was a habit, and you don’t need it in order to survive … but he died early.

When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter, where you didn’t sleep at all?

Three weeks ago, when I was doing press for this tour. You gotta get up at 6 in the morning. We were watching a hockey game. I was with friends in Toronto. We got back at 4 in the morning and I went, “Well, I gotta get up in two, so there’s no point lying down.”

Did you pay a price the next day?

I felt physically ill … which only helps my act.

For millenniums, our body clocks were regulated by the daylight – agrarian mode, rise at dawn, sleep when the sun went down. Is it out of step with nature to stay up all hours in artificial light?

I think everyone now travels with their own clock inside their body. Everyone’s so much about themselves. I don’t think they care. I’m much more creative at nights. I work nights.

“Everyone travels with their own clock.” Studies indicate that most people need to be awakened from sleep, awakened to some sort of alarm. Do you?

No. When I’ve got to do something, for some reason, in my head, I get up sort of half an hour before. I just do. I don’t set an alarm clock. Ever. But I’m a strange bird. If I don’t have to get up, I don’t. And my dog is 16, so he doesn’t have to go out first thing in the morning any more. He sleeps sounder than me.

Over the past 50 years, people have been sleeping, on average, an hour less a night. That adds up to a day’s sleep a week lost. Must we not be adversely affecting health, happiness and brain function?

Is that why there’s more zombie movies now?

“Eat sensibly,” “exercise regularly.” “Get enough sleep” would seem to be a lower priority than those. Is it equally important?

I would say so, yeah. Lack of sleep leads to anxiety, and anxiety is the new plague of the modern age.

Sleep deprivation as the new smoking?

Yeah, I would say so. If you get ripped off of sleep on a consistent basis, I think it could hurt you, yeah.

So we have one more thing added to diet and exercise that society can nag us about?

Hopefully, yeah. Hopefully, [employers] will realize that and realize people are more productive when they get sleep and SHORTEN HOURS!

Another U.S. study found that delaying school start times by an hour improved student attentiveness and performance. Students would be smarter for a shorter day.

Smarter for a shorter time … why not? That’s a way better thing. And don’t tell the United States!

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