Understanding Sleep patterns, in times past and today


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Understanding Sleep patterns,
in times past and today

With a special note on religious
toleration and acceptance

The Daily Walk with Love (Link to Home page and blog), republished September 12, 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.

A special note on religious
toleration and acceptance

Did you know that more people have died in the last 2,000 years because of religious differences in active religious warfare than from any other single cause? And this is despite Jesus’ wish at the Last Supper “that they all may be one.” In other words, (you know in your heart), now we must lay aside our differences and and tolerate and accept each other, and cease trying to force everyone to believe just as one person or one church or even one denomination does, in all the doctrines and dogmas which have been put forth. In other words, despite our Saviour’s wishes, we continue to hate and hurt those who are different than we are.

We must (as Pope Francis put it a few years ago) come to know that God is patiently waiting for us to accept his love, with open arms, “NOT as people say we must be, but just as we are.” I have my own ideas about some of the more important beliefs, and teach those ideas here, put forward not as any sort of doctrine at all, but only as a sort of (hopefully informed) exploration, which however I have arrived at through 37 years of on and off study of comparative religion.


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