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Thomas Edison Believed Sleep Was a Waste of Time

In 1879 the modern world changed forever with a patent. It was issued for the invention of a carbon filament made of cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways. This process which, after fine tuning, would launch a company the following year dedicated to commercial production of the electric light bulb. The Edison Electric Company offered its customers a safer, cleaner, cheaper alternative to gas light. As electric power began to replace gas in homes and factories, for the first time in human history work was no longer limited to the time between sunrise and sunset.

With his modern utterance of “let there be light,” Thomas Edison invited humanity into a world that never sleeps. Edison himself believed sleep was a waste of time. He was known to work over 100 hours a week, to hold job interviews at 4:00am, and to insist that his employees adhere to the same sleepless schedule he did. He adhered to and promoted a philosophy that rest was the enemy of productivity. In 1914 he said that there is really no reason why men should go to bed at all.

It appears his vision for a sleepless humanity has come to pass. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared a sleep deprivation epidemic among Americans. Though Edison’s “let there be light” may have ushered us into sleeplessness, the divine creator who uttered, “Let there be light” also benevolently declares “Let there be rest.”

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