I have been thinking a bit about sleep. I never feel like I get enough of it. And sleep is very very good for you. Previously I have referred to the book Lights Out (here and here and here). Sufficient sleep - in the dark - is not only good for you it is what you were built to need. Rob Wolf puts it as the third most important need you have after air and water.
Usually it is my own fault for not going to bed early and I have tried to think of ways, hacks, to get me to go to bed before it is too late. One is the idea of an Electric Curfew - all electronic equipment turned off by 11:30 or whatever....but I never really built the habit. There are other tricks out there too...but I really need more sleep
Anyway I was reading different stuff about sleep and came across this article on Greg Laden's blog: An Evolutionary View of Humans 2: Sleep
There are some really interesting ideas there:
A typical night with the Efe is, I strongly suspect, typical of any night with any tropical or subtropical forager group. At any given moment in time, somebody is asleep and somebody is awake. Those who are awake are often talking. Sometimes they are talking to each other, but often they are just talking. Telling a story that someone may or may not be interested in. I suspect that part of the constant noise making (and what may make Africa different from Australia) is that you don’t want to be too quiet for too long else wandering dangerous animals …. a leopard, a suid, an elephant … may stumble into your camp and cause trouble.
The person or persons who is/are awake shifts throughout then night. It is not systematic … people are not really keeping watch … it just seems to happen. Individuals sleep when they are comfortable, and become uncomfortable as the fire cools, wake up, adjust the fire, and either stay up for a while or fall back to sleep. If one child is keeping his or her family awake, this affects the entire group. And so on.
Naps during the day (as you might expect since everybody gets a poor night’s sleep by Western standards every night) are common.
Here it is in a nutshell. The Efe, and I again suspect this is typical for foragers, spend the entire 24 hour cycle sometimes awake and sometimes asleep. During the night, “asleep” is more common than “awake” and during the day “awake” is more common than “asleep.” To foragers, it’s all napping.
One could criticize this description by pointing out how it conflicts with modern medical views of sleep. But you would be wrong. It is the case that modern medical views of sleep need to be adjusted to take into account the realties of what humans have probably always done for hundreds of thousands of years (since the first control of fire, perhaps).
Really interesting stuff. I wonder if that is why I liek to fall asleep with the radio on....the hear the voices chatting away as I drift off?
Difficult to work this into my job in the Council though!