The following article is entirely made up. It’s satire. I am making fun of treatment modalities which are claimed by proponents to cure everything, from real medical ailments to fictional entities like “adrenal fatigue”. I am also poking fun at the state of medical reporting these days. If the concepts discussed seem similar to actual alternative medical practice, it is because a great deal of what goes on out there in the real world really isn’t distinguishable from purposefully outlandish fictional treatments made up by someone with a doctoral degree in Feng Shui from Thunderwood College.
The Sleep Bank: A scientific solution to fatigue?
Jandine Odenkirk sits patiently in a room at a clinic located just blocks from her downtown Baton Rouge apartment, waiting for her doctor. Only instead of the typical sterile treatment room, uncomfortable examination gown and nervous pacing, Odenkirk is nestled in a warm bed, surrounded by soft lights and music. A doctor walks in, places a metallic band around her head and plugs the attached array of wires into a sleek black machine in the corner of the room. It immediately comes to life and within seconds a slow but steady stream of paper emerges which the doctor examines closely for irregularities or, as is usually the case, signs of improvement. The doctor smiles as he examines it. Her brain waves look much better today.
As you may have already gathered, this isn’t your usual medical practice. In fact, it is much more than that. Odenkirk is one of a growing number of patients whose lives are being changed for the better by the Baton Rouge Sleep Bank™, which is owned and operated by Dr. Mort Fishman, DS. Fishman, a Doctor of Sleepology™ certified by the Certification Division of the Correspondence College of Tampa, a subsidiary of Sleep Bank™, saw a great need for sleep banking in Baton Rouge. “I’m proud, not only to call such a fine city as Baton Rouge home, but also to be able to provide such a life-changing service,” Fishman explains while Odenkirk undergoes her hour-long treatment process. “Before I came here people literally didn’t even know that sleep banking existed!”
Fishman has seen it all during his 5 years as a certified Sleepologist™. He says that fatigue is the number one cause of most medical complaints (See Table 1). Luckily, despite being ignored by more conventional doctors who only treat the symptoms of fatigue rather than the whole tired person, maverick scientists have been investigating treatment options for fatigue without the benefit of billions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry because alternative treatments can’t be patented. Their tireless efforts eventually led to the discovery of sleep banking and ultimately to the patented process of Sleeptivation™, where banked sleep is transferred into the brain of a sleep-deprived patient.
“It’s simple really,” explains Dr. Fishman. “Most people are familiar with regular banks, where they deposit and withdraw money. Many people may even be familiar with milk banks or even cord blood banks. This is exactly like that except instead of breast milk for micropremies or stem cells for cancer patients, we bank sleep.”
Here’s how it works. Just like with blood or plasma donation, healthy volunteers take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour of their time, usually on a weekend or day off, to come to the Sleep Bank™ and donate sleep. The process couldn’t be easier. Volunteers are hooked up to the same machine as Jandine Odenkirk only the large black knob on the front is turned to “In” instead of “Out”. Volunteers are not monetarily compensated for their donation for a very important reason. “Studies performed at Sleep Bank™ regional headquarters in Boulder were troublesome,” Fishman reveals. “They discovered that non-altruistic sleep donation increased the risk of sleep rejection by over a quartile! It wouldn’t be right to take that kind of chance.”
When a fatigued patient, like Jandine Odenkirk, comes in for a Sleeptivation™ session, they are treated as well as they would be at any expensive spa, conventional or medical. Aromatherapy and music therapy are integral to the process, which also includes a 5-minute light massage and a glass of wine. The knob on the machine is then turned to “Out” and the patient typically enters a relaxed state almost immediately, with most actually falling asleep. “Several studies have shown that the process of Sleeptivation™ is more effective if the patient is asleep during it, but that is where our understanding of this complex science becomes less clear.”
Odenkirk, a 45-year-old executive with a history of stress and anxiety disorders, isn’t concerned about the science. She reveals, “I’m glad that top minds are looking into these questions, but what really matters is if it works. And, in general, I can usually say that I feel somewhat more relaxed after the treatment.”
Sessions can last anywhere from thirty to forty-five minutes, but Dr. Fishman has on occasion allowed them to go longer. “We don’t practice cookbook Sleepology™ at the Sleep Bank™. Sometimes a patient just needs a few more minutes.”
Dr. Fishman, one of only ten certified Sleepologists™ in Louisiana, invites naysayers to check out the process for themselves. I asked a noted and anonymous local skeptical blogger, The Red Stick Skeptic, their thoughts on sleep banking and Sleeptivation™. “It sounds like a typical set up for being fooled into thinking that a treatment works, when all that is going on is the customer is getting a nap and a healthy dose of placebo,” Red Stick Skeptic bellowed curmudgeonly. “And I’m sure it isn’t free either!” The blogger declined the opportunity to try a session, most likely because of closed-mindedness.
To answer the question once and for all, I underwent a Sleeptivation™ session and couldn’t have been more impressed. As a dedicated investigative journalist who is lucky to get 2 to 3 hours of sleep each night, I know that sleep deprivation is a big problem, and sure enough I suffer from just about every symptom on Dr. Fishman’s list. After my hour of treatment, I felt relaxed and ready to face the rest of the day. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone. Sleeptivation™ is the real deal.
(Sleeptivation™ costs $200 per half hour but there are less expensive rates when sessions are bought in bulk packages of 10, 20, or 50 sessions. The Baton Rouge Sleep Bank™ also offers an unlimited lifetime membership for $15,000. There is also an at-home system which can be rented for $500 per day or $2,000 per week. These fees do not include consultation with a certified Sleepologist™. High quality cotton tee-shirts, with the slogans “You Ain’t Been Vated, ‘Til You Been Sleeptivated™!” or “Perfect Health is 1% Perspiration and 99% Sleeptivation™!” are available for $20.)
Table 1: Symptoms proven to be treated by Sleeptivation™*
-difficulty maintaining homeostasis
-persistent production of saliva
-difficulty abstaining from cocaine use
-continued regrowth of body hair despite repeated attempts at shaving it off
-difficulty holding more than 5 to 9 objects in working memory
-difficulty reading without one’s glasses or contacts
*According to the International Sleepology Institute™