When you’re married to the Facebook CEO, don’t be surprised when he tries to solve your sleep problems by inventing something
Mark Zuckerberg runs the biggest social media site in the world and is worth literally billions of dollars. But just like every other parent out there, he and his wife have trouble sleeping through the night because they have little kids. Specifically, Zuckerberg said that his wife, Priscilla Chan, was having trouble sleeping well because she’d wake up worrying about if it was time to get up, wake herself up trying to check her phone for the time, and then have trouble falling back asleep even if the kids were down. Even when Maxima, 3, and August, 1, were both sleeping soundly, Priscilla wasn’t.
So, like any other good engineer genius, the Zuck invented a solution for her: a “sleep box” that allows her to set aside her worries and get more shut eye. He posted about it, no big surprise, on Facebook, for his hundreds of millions of friends.
It’s a really good idea, too! The “sleep box” emits a low, warm light from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., so that if Priscilla wakes up during this time, she knows that it’s getting close to morning, but that she can still rest if she needs to. If she wakes up before 6 a.m., she can glance over at the box and see that it’s still night without having to wake herself up looking at her phone. And the light’s dim enough that it won’t wake her up on its own.
“So far this has worked better than I expected and she can now sleep through the night,” Zuckerberg wrote.
He also commented that this was the best way he could help his wife that he could think of.
“As an engineer, building a device to help my partner sleep better is one of the best ways I can think of to express my love and gratitude,” he said.
But to that, we say, kind of? What Zuckerberg is possibly failing to notice in this post is that his wife is experiencing anxiety and worry from being the person in charge of kids – the person who is ultimately managing the household. She’s getting stressed out as soon as she’s awake because that’s when her brain turns on and starts going over the tasks of the day, her kids’ needs, and everyone’s needs and wants and schedules. When he says she can’t fall back asleep when she knows the time, it’s likely because she has so much on her plate. The “sleep box” helps her brain not to turn on just yet, but it’s also ignoring the core problem: she’s having trouble sleeping because she’s overwhelmed with parenting tasks, and her husband doesn’t seem to be.
Still, it’s sweet, even if he misses the point that moms everywhere, even billionaire moms, are stressed out.
Is Zuck going to roll out “sleep boxes” for moms across the world, adding to his mountain of wealth? It doesn’t sound like it. He’s basically giving the idea away.
“A bunch of my friends have told me they’d want something like this, so I’m putting this out there in case another entrepreneur wants to run with this and build sleep boxes for more people!”
Of course, as most moms know, this idea kind of already exists, at least for kids. Just one example: the LittleHippo Mella Ready to Rise kids’ alarm clock trainer uses lights and changing faces to let kids know when they need to stay in bed, when it’s almost time to get up, and when they can jump out of bed and start their day. It glows yellow for a half-hour before kids get up, and then turns green when they’re good to go. And, unlike Zuckerberg’s light box, it has five sleep sound settings and night light options. And it’s patented. Just saying.
Of course, if we know Mark Zuckerberg, we guess it’s not that surprising that he kind of sort of took someone’s idea and just made it look better. Or, that he didn’t know about this in the first place.
The takeaway lesson? It sure was nice of Zuckerberg to invent his wife a magic box to help her sleep. It would be even nicer if he took on some of her mental load and invisible labor so she could sleep even easier. And it would be the total nicest if everyone realized that moms lose lots of sleep when they have little kids, and it’s not just because the kids are awake or need help or need nursing, it’s because way too often moms are left in charge of the worrying. Someone, anyone, Mark Zuckerberg, find a simple solution for that.