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Tonight, via the magic of the internet, you can watch me sleep

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Sleeping Cat

Source: dominigs' Flickr page

This may go down as one of my weirder social media projects, but tonight, I’ll be doing a sleep study at Swedish Medical Center on Cherry Hill and while I’m sleeping, you’ll be able to watch me on the internet. This obviously and immediately brings up a few questions—chief among them:

WTF?

Swedish is calling it the inaugural “Sleep-Up,” the point of which is to raise awareness for sleep apnea (which is what I’m being tested for) and other sleep-related disorders. Aaron Blank, a PR consultant with The Fearey Group and the person who helped get me involved as a guinea pig, summed up the point of the project quite well on his blog:

More than 50 million adults in the United States have a chronic sleep disorder. Sleep disorders tend to cause daytime drowsiness, fatigue and distress, which can profoundly affect family life, workplace performance and driving safety. Drowsy driving crashes alone cause at least 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. Additionally, sleep disorders can impact a person’s health. Fortunately, sleep issues are treatable and curable.

Sleep issues can be embarrassing, and often people prefer not to talk about it. We’re hoping we offer these individuals an opportunity to discuss it openly, and online.

You can read more about it on the Sleep-Up site or in this Big Blog post.

Why are you doing this?

Two reasons, really:

One, I’ve had sleep problems for a long time. While I wouldn’t necessarily call them debilitating—if necessary, I can function off four hours or less—they have occasionally been frustrating. Despite that, I can’t say I’d ever go have a sleep study done if I didn’t have some other reason to do so. I’ve known Aaron for a little while, he’s a good guy and I think he and Swedish have the right idea with what they’re trying to do. I’ve always said that with regard to getting your message out, you have to be where your audience is, no matter where that is. Well, what better place to engage the sleep-deprived than the internet? Ideally, one or a few of them will engage with this project and realize that maybe they don’t have to suffer in silence when it comes to sleep loss or discomfort.

Why do you feel it necessary to put your name and face out there?

In the spirit of the fact that this is a social media project and I’m participating in it, I wanted to give it some (and I stress some) publicity by putting it on my blog. Besides that, I’m probably going to be Tweeting my observations anyway and…I guess I just really don’t care who knows I have (or don’t have) sleep apnea. It’s not like it’s an embarrassing affliction or anything and besides that, I’m not the first guy to take his medical issues to the internet.

Look, I believe in social media because it’s an interesting and practical way to connect with people who I wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with. And if you haven’t noticed, social media has the power to do real good. I realize we’re not curing cancer here or anything, but if we can make social media work for this one thing, maybe it can scale for other (dare I say more serious) ailments, too. If you haven’t noticed, social media is being integrated into your health care anyway.

Uh, so what are you going to do if you can’t sleep?

I’ll have a bunch of wires plugged into my head, so this is at least a little likely. Also, the study starts at 10 p.m. and I do not go to sleep at 10 p.m. So here’s what I’ve got on tap:

Come chat if you’re up tomorrow night.

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