Posted by Gail | Filed under Gail Pleasures
I eat when I’m hungry. I sleep when I’m tired. I do virtually nothing by rote. Well, I do make my bed in the mornings, but that’s after 49 years of not making my bed, so I see it more as a daily choice than as a discipline.
A lot of the things we expect of your kids are things we associate with discipline. Eat breakfast food for breakfast. Brush your teeth every night before you go to bed. Go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.
We might be wrong.
I’m a napper. I can sleep for 20 minutes three or four times during the day and it keeps me going. I feel rested and healthy. I lose the fog that comes from intense concentration on a particular task. I do it because it’s what works for me.
Alex has a name for it: polyphasic sleep. She’s begun practicing it recently (not because of me*) and has found herself much happier and healthier. Malcolm does it too (again, not because of me*). He’ll get home from school and crash for an hour or two and then get up and get on with his day. On non-school days he naps a couple of times. I put it down to “growing boy” syndrome until Alex told me about Polyphasic sleep.
(*I say, “not because of me” because I’ve never done anything to encourage it except do it in full view.)
The term was coined by psychologist J.S. Szymanski to refer to the practice of sleeping multiple times in a 24-hour period. Biphasic sleep is when you nod off twice a day, and monophasic sleep is what most people do, which is go to bed at night and sleep until morning.
It’s long been held that if you didn’t sleep for a solid eight hours your body would disintegrate… along with your mind. Not so it seems. Those who adapt naturally – or who are forced to by circumstances – love what grabbing 20 minutes a few times a day does for their creativity and productivity. Sometimes I need to sleep to stop my brain from making me go crazy as it seeks the solution to a problem. Sometimes I’ve done so much writing between 4 and 7 a.m. if I don’t sleep, I can’t think for the rest of the day.
Clearly polyphasic sleep isn’t for everyone. You have to have a schedule that allows for it. When I’m on set and it’s been a particularly trying time (you’ve seen some of those shows, right?), I’ll kneel down, put my head on a chair and sleep for 20 minutes to recover my equilibrium.
On the weekends I use my naps to turn 2 days into 4. Yup, I have a four-day weekend every weekend. Saturday afternoon as I climb into my lovely bed and pull up my blankie, I sigh. I’ll be up in a couple of hours to do Saturday, Part II. Sunday: Rinse and repeat.
Hmmm. I think I’m ready for a nap.