Friday, February 24, 2012

Natural Sleep

It turns out there are a lot of unintended negative consequences of modern technology.  Obviously there are the ones we hear about all the time like obesity and climate change but there are also weird things we hardly even know about like sleep pattern changes.  This article talks about how people used to sleep in chunks, usually two of them, with a break in the middle of wakefulness.  People would tend to socialize, play games quietly or have sex during this intermediate period and then go back to sleep for the second half of the night.  Apparently it was even a big deal for people to try to break their children of this two sleep habit at some points!  That is all changed now of course because of light.

We no longer have 12 hours a day on average of time when little work can be done.  We aren't limited by the sun, the elements nor the season in our labors so there is a real incentive to cram our sleep into as tiny a space as possible of our day.  We are, by and large, massively sleep deprived as a society as a result.  I can tell you for sure that if the power went off at dusk I would get a hell of a lot more sleep - and like most people probably a lot more sex too.  When you have 12 hours a day of darkness (or more like 15 in the winter) you eventually run out of wanting to sleep and have to find something else to do!

Though it might be healthy for us in a lot of ways to turn off the lights at night we certainly aren't going to do that.  Whether or not this shows that we are dumb or driven I can't really say.

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