Monday, June 12, 2006

A circadian classic

Coturnix has just reposted an excellent post about sleep and circadian rhythms. It includes handy tips about correcting a late-night, late-morning ("owl") sleep schedule, such as:
  • If you are an extreme owl, when you first get up in the morning, immediately go out in the sunlight (that is thousands of lux of light energy, compared to hundreds from a lightbox) for a jog with your dog. If you do not have a dog, buy one.

  • Work at night, sleep during the day (in a pitch-dark, light-tight, sound-proof room) and enjoy life in all its quirkiness.

  • If you wake up in the middle of the night, do not get up or switch on the light. Have sex instead. Hopefully your partner will enjoy being woken up by your kinky activities.
There's also a consideration of why teenagers have different sleep schedules than adults, some sociobiological explanations for human sleep patterns, a primer on "sleep etiquette," thoughts on the future of sleep, and a consideration of the role of sleep in our Puritan society:
I see some striking parallels between the way this society treats sleep and the way it treats sex. Both are sinful activities, associated with one of the Seven Deadly Sins (Sloth and Lust). Both are associated with the most powerful biological needs. Both are supposed to be a taboo topic. Both are supposed to be done in private, at night, with a pretense that it is never actually happening. Education in sleep hygiene and sex hygiene are both slighted, one way or another (the former passively, the latter actively opposed). Both are thought to interfere with one's productivity - ah, the good old Protestant work ethic! Why are Avarice and Greed not treated the same way? Raking in money by selling mega-burgers is just fine, and a decent topic of conversation, even a point of pride. Why are we still allowing Puritan Calvinist way of thinking, coupled with capitalist creed, to still guide the way we live our lives, or even think about life. Sleeping, whether with someone or alone, is a basic human need, thus a basic human right. Neither really detracts from the workplace productivity - au contraire: well rested and well satisfied people are happy, energetic, enthusiastic and productive. It is sleep repressed people, along with the dour sex repressed people, who are the problem, making everyone nervous. How much longer are we going to hide under the covers?
Coturnix claims that this isn't his best post, which just shows how good his other posts are. But for someone who tends towards an atypical sleep schedule, it was very enlightening. Don't read it right before bed -- too interesting -- but do read it, even if you're a perfectly normal sleeper. In fact, it might make you question what "perfectly normal sleeper" really means.


coturnix said...

Perhaps it is not the best but it is good. I have re-read it this morning after a long time and I still like it, so it can't be that bad. I can see why people like it.

Some of the stuff I mention in it I later covered in detail in more recent Circadiana posts (which will all, one by one, get moved to the new blog).

6/12/2006 2:56 PM  

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