Steven Wright used to tell a joke about going out in the early a.m. to a local grocery store in NYC that listed “Open 24 Hours”. As he arrived, the owner was locking up. Wright asked “I thought you were open 24 hours ?” The owner said, “Well, yeah, but not in a row.”
That’s how I regard the long- held health advice to get 8 hours of sleep a night. You mean “in a row”?
There have been many times in my life that I experienced what I believed was sleep deprivation.
Recent studies about sleep patterns would indicate that this was not the case. I was engaging in what is called polyphasic sleep. Instead of the usually recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, I often would get 5 hours at night, followed by napping that would add another 1-2 hours to my daily total.
I used to feel guilty about this. I outgrew that.
It turns out that my pattern has some foundation in history. Our ancestors were known to sleep 4 hours at a time, repeating the process when needed. It worked for them, and contemporaries seem to feel it would work for us today. A piece from “The Mind Unleashed”.
It didn’t happen right away. Actually, for me, it happened by accident. Literally, an accident; I broke my foot and was on pain medication which kept me up a lot during the night. It is when I started seriously writing; this time for pleasure instead of work.
On leave from work, children and husband were self-sufficient by then, so I got out of bed when I woke up, usually around 3 -4 am, took to the computer to write until I got tired. I sometimes went back to bed for a bit; sometimes stayed up to get a nap in the late afternoon. It was really working for me, until I went back to work and had to follow a “normal human” schedule.
Once I gave up a full time job, I went back to the erratic sleep schedule. Why not ? It worked for me then and now.
If you’re a writer, there is great advantage to waking up to a completely quiet environment. Some of the best stuff comes out when you are not distracted. I also discovered years ago that my energy level peaks in the early morning, and absolutely drags by mid afternoon.
I’d like to say more, but I’m off for a nap. Cheers.