Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sleeping, cat napping, nodding off

Sleeping is the lead article in The Times Week in the Review section. As if it's news? Of course sleeping is as old as life itself, I think. In the past six or ten months I've read a number of articles about sleep. The central point of this article (no surprise) is that the eight hours of sleep a night is a social construct. Duh! If we're at all aware of other cultures, we know the Mediterranean countries split their work days for a siesta time. A part of the message is that napping is normal and that the edict of eight hours is artificial. The author was skimming the surface, so he didn't mention that the eight hour work day/eight hour sleep idea fits industry-- and it allows room for a couple of hours overtime as well. The sleep medication industry loves the eight hour idea because many people actually have a sleep rhythm that divides their sleep into first and second parts--but those convinced they should get all eight sequentially buy medications to make sure they do. Throughout history references were made to first sleep and second sleep. First being two or three hours and then wakefulness for a couple of hours and then another few hours of sleep. That interim period seems to be very creative (not least of all when a couple use the time for sex.) My body can't decide which pattern works; or rather, I am aware of both patterns. On the two part nights,I use the wakeful time to think through questions or plans. My body seems happy to lie still in a relaxed state while the mind churns through thoughts. I read a review a few weeks ago of a book by a thinker who write of how exceptionally odd it is that humans habitually and eagerly, enter a helpless, vulnerable state which would seem to be at odds with all urges for self-preservation. He has a point, whether we think of ourselves in our homes, doors locked, or of primitive man huddled in a cave or flimsy shelter. I thought of that often when I lived in NYC and walked past street people sleeping on benches or in corners. Where did they get the courage?

1 comment:


I think sleeping refreshes the body, improves the immune system and gives us lots of energy. Probably we all have different sleep patterns. Whatever works is what we should do -- barbara