Researchers on a recent episode of the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast recently discussed a Berkeley study which showed that people actually enjoy television more with commercials than without. This is attributed to the phenomenon known as adaptation. As people continue to experience pleasing stimuli, their degree of pleasure decreases as their body becomes accustomed to, or adapts, to the stimuli. This is why a massage chair will vary the areas of the body that it is massaging and turn off completely halfway through a massage. If the entire body was to be constantly being massaged, the massage itself would become considerably less pleasurable over time. But by stopping the massage midway and then beginning it again, it reactivates the pleasure centers of the body which caused the person to enjoy the massage in the first place.
Apparently commercials serve a similar purpose. Interrupting the story allows for a greater sense of entertainment when the story resumes.
I have always made a similar claim about sleep. For years, I would set an alarm to go off at 2:00 AM, just so that I would have the opportunity to experience the joy of falling asleep again. After years of this training, I am now typically able to wake up in the middle of the night on my own, much to the relief of my wife, who does not ascribe to this philosophy and would never abide by a middle-of-the-night alarm. The worst night of sleep for me is the uninterrupted one, because the time I spend in bed passes in the blink of an eye.
Now Harvard Business Review has validated what many have previously felt was a ridiculous belief.
Of course, it’s helpful that I can fall asleep without exception in less than a minute, but I trained myself over a period of years to do that as well, so I’m merely reaping the rewards of my hard work.
Please tell me I’m not alone in this now substantiated belief. Is there anyone out there who would prefer to wake up two or three times a night rather than sleeping straight through?