There are some topics of debate in the realm of ethics that are a little odd. Sure, we like to tackle the serious stuff such as respecting individuality versus equality, but did you know that this applies to sleep? We can discuss the ethical implications of almost anything social, historical, psychological, or political. We can also bandy about arguments related to health and fitness. Nothing is immune from the keen eye of ethics. It has been around forever as a formidable branch of philosophy. If only more people were into the subject, we would have a better and fairer world. People would make better judgements if they looked at all sides of an issue instead of focusing only on themselves. We don’t live in a vacuum, however, and must consider the interests of all. While democracy focuses on individual rights, it never loses sight of the majority.
We all got into sleep (figuratively) when one of my fellow students started complaining of being tired all the time due to his rampant insomnia. We felt sorry for him but deplored that he was constantly late. It prompted us to look into the necessity of sleep for all mankind and how to ensure that all are counseled equally and appropriately. If scientists want to answer the question of how much sleep, they will be considering the individual’s needs versus what is right for everyone. Apparently, there is no discrepancy. The conclusion that we found here to be debated is whether we agree that biological rules (such as eight hours average sleep are best) are always more valid than one person’s need for more or less. Are there other life principles that are universally valid? Given cultural disparity, probably not.
People who lack enough sleep, even one measly hour, feel tired in the morning. They are cranky and their mind is often cloudy, affecting productivity in every way. They are at risk for serious health problems such as diabetes and obesity. Their ability to make wise decisions falls off. It can’t be possible that we are all alike in our need. We universally need sleep, but the question is how much. If it were as easy as getting eight and that’s it, we wouldn’t have negative consequences of a lack of sleep. Some need six to seven, depending upon one’s age, and some nine or more. We have to conclude that from an ethical standpoint, dictating the exact amount of sleep humans require is erroneous. It is up to the medical community to weight the factors involved. They are likely to change their recommendations and to become more liberal in their advice.
We are not all equal although we come pretty close to it in terms of the physical self. Our mental nature is another matter. Our emotional needs don’t often overlap. There are basic types such as introverts and extroverts, intuitives and earthbound beings. Every inherited gene affects our response to the world, including our need for a certain amount of sleep.