Sleep- now and then


I have whack sleeping habits most of the time. Sometimes when I go to bed, I am resentful against the time required to rest. I have other things I should be doing, I think.

This is replaced on other nights, with a deep and abiding affection for my bed, particularly when it’s dressed in clean sheets.

Most mornings I am up by 5am. And no, I don’t do anything useful with this time. I wish I could say I wrote and edited and wove magical spells for books to come. No. Mostly I’m surfing in silence. Sometimes I’ll break the spell and watch the video equivalent of eating a McNugget, like this one of Kermit doing the speech from Taken. (It’s all I can handle at this time of the morn.)

I would like to sleep longer but then again, I’m in bed by 10pm, so seven hours sleep ain’t bad.

I thought I was doing something wrong with my sleep until I read an Op-Ed article by a Professor of Anthropology at Stanford, who studied other cultures sleep habits. She claims that the obsession with eight hours straight sleep falls out of the age of electricity.

Back when night fell for, on average, half of each 24 hours, people slept in phases. In “At Day’s Close,” a remarkable history of night in the early modern West, Roger Ekirch writes that people fell asleep not long after dark for the “first sleep.” Then they awoke, somnolent but not asleep, often around midnight, when for a few hours they talked, read, prayed, had sex, brewed beer or burgled. Then they went back to sleep for a shorter period.

Did you ever notice your dreams are much richer if you wake early, then sleep again? My dreams at that time feel as though they are in 3D technicolour, styled by Tim Burton and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

I had friends coming over for morning tea on Sunday. I woke at 3.30am and thought about the cakes I wanted to make. I lay in bed and fretted about what time I would have to get up to have them ready in time. Then I got the hell up, and just bloody made them. An orange and passionfruit cake and a gingerbread loaf.

After they were on the cooling rack, I went back to bed, at about 5.30am, then dreamed about a lakeside, mid-century style home, which I don’t even like, but it was pretty great in my dream.

When I woke at 9.30am. Everything was done. I just had to shower, and imbibe cake and champagne with my beloveds.

Instead of fighting the periods of wakefulness, I have decided to embrace them, which is why I was up at 5am this morning, making bread. Why not? I could lie in bed and freak out about why I’m not sleeping, or I can roll with it and make the best of the time to potter, surf, read, think, be.





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