Understanding Sleep patterns, in times past and now


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Sleep patterns (around the world,
over time, and especially in modern times):
This turns out to be a fascinating
(and perhaps useful) subject!

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The Daily Walk with Love (Link to Home page and blog), republished April 3, 2019, by Paul Evans, with main sources of What You Can Learn From Hunter-Gatherers’ Sleeping Patterns, and “Stages of Sleep and Sleep Cycles,” from Tuck, December 19, 2018, featured photograph is from Tangerine Dream on Facebook.

Here in most of western society, we take for granted a fairly standard sleep cycle and our day almost invariably consists of eight hours of work, eight hours of doing whatever you have to or want to do or have to, and eight hours mostly or completely dedicated to one long, hopefully uninterrupted sleep. This has been so consistently held on to by most Western nations that little thought is given to the fact that there are other ways and schedules which might work just as well, some of which are even currently the way it works in other societies.

From What You Can Learn From Hunter-Gatherers’ Sleeping Patterns in the Atlantic:

We’d wake up for a few hours during the night, instead of snoozing for a single long block. And we’d nap during the day.” (Paul: Many early English writers refer to a “first sleep” and a “second sleep,” though I don’t know the time frame as to when the English switched over to the modern 8,8,8 idea. It may have something to do with the advance of technology in much of England.
Then—minor key!—modernity ruined everything. Our busy working lives put an end to afternoon naps, while lightbulbs, TV screens, and smartphones shortened our natural slumber and made it more continuous. [(This content was written by the Atlantic’s Ed Yong.)]

(Paul): And what of the Spanish (and perhaps many if not most Hispanic) societies? They had mid-day “siestas,” right? Google said that an average siesta lasted two hours: “This meal could last up to two hour, (longer if time allows), and alcohol is often included. A rest before going back to work is essential after that.

While we’re at it, let’s turn our eyes eastward to Japan. The Japanese Times summarizes trends in Japan regarding sleep in Japanese firms starting to encourage employees to take naps at work.

While our doctors here in the U.S. worry (and worry us, their patients) and about what is becoming a concern here, (it’s called “sleep debt”), and how that can result in poor health, some people buck the trend. The architect Buckminster Fuller (the inventor of the first geodesic dome) is said to have got by with no long periods of sleep at all, despite all the talk about the necessity of deep sleep — and here doctors allude to REM sleep which is associated with dreaming. Mister Fuller is said to have gotten by quite well on four naps of 20 minutes each every day. (Don’t try this yourselves, OK?) I am in no way responsible, legally or otherwise for what might happen to you. Fuller is also the guy who said “either war is over or so is humanity.” Did you know we are in the middle of the fourth big wave of extinctions in earth history? Better clean up Mother Earth, Carl Sagan and others remind us, few people are going anywhere in the next 100 years.


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