Ever since my recent post Why Can’t I Sleep?, I’ve been conducting sleep experiments on the furniture around the house. Yes – on the furniture. You see – some of the reviews of the SleepCycle iPhone App claimed that its graphs are fake – that even tables have sleep cycles, according to their own experiments with this software. So I tried it on a few surfaces around the house and, other than some explainable wiggles attributable to human interference, all of my infrastructure seems to be sleeping soundly, unlike me…
Based on these results, I’d say the SleepCycle iPhone App is definitely ‘for real’. In fact, it even complained about the bathroom counter – it told me that there was insufficient movement detected to adequately assess the quality of the bathroom counter’s sleep. So – that’s the good news.
The bad news is in my sleep graph – as you can see, I am still suffering from insomnia. Or am I? This morning, on the CBC show, Sunday Edition Michael Enright interviewed a historian – I think it was Roger Ekirch – who said that, up until a few hundred years ago, people typically had a bimodal sleep pattern with two 4-hour sleeps per night and a 1 to 2-hour waking period in between. I was astounded – this is exactly what happens to me every night (as you can see in my sleep graph above)! I always wake up after about 4 hours of sleep and it always takes me a couple of hours to get back to sleep. According to Dr. Ekirch, that’s completely normal! At least it was normal for humans for hundreds of thousand of years. Then for some reason – people decided that they should sleep right through the night. Ekirch suggests it’s related to the advent of city lighting at night which started in the late 1600s. I think an additional factor might be our increasingly busy lives and the prevalence of the ‘8 to 5’ work pattern – it’s hard to fit a bimodal sleep cycle into the intervening period. Apparently a medical journal in 1829 even urged parents to break their children of this bimodal sleeping pattern and, by the 1920s, nobody even remembered that it was the normal way to sleep.
So, all this time, I’ve just been doing what’s normal. What terrific news! Now – instead of stressing over the fact that I’m awake for two hours a night – I am going to embrace my completely normal bimodal sleep pattern. Think of all the work I can get done in those two hours a night – dusting, marking… writing! Hmm, maybe I should test Mr. Hicks to see if he has a bimodal sleep pattern, too! 😉