Why Humanity Slept


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The 17th-century English poet Francis Quarles rated darkness alongside silence as an aid to internal reflection:. Let the end of thy first sleep raise thee from thy repose: then hath thy body the best temper, then hath thy soule the least incumbrance; then no noise shall disturbe thine ear; no object shall divert thine eye. When dreaming, our minds create imagery from memories, hopes and fears. And in the dead of night, drowsy brains can conjure up new ideas from the debris of dreams and apply them to our creative pursuits.

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I have been writing for nearly three hours and I now am going back to bed for my second sleep. I will work again later in the day. It is only because of the way that I have made my life no children, self-employed that I can be a segmented sleeper. But I have also had to fit my sleeping habits into periods of nine-to-five work, and the two are hardly compatible; few sounds are more dreadful than the buzz of an alarm when you have spent several hours in the night awake and have only just gone back to sleep. In Daily Rituals: How Artists Work , Mason Currey describes the routines of famous writers and artists, many of whom are early risers, and several segmented sleepers.

Currey found that many hit on the pattern of segmented sleep by accident. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance, would wake around 4am, unable to fall back to sleep — so he would work for three or four hours, then take a nap. The Nobel Prize-winning novelist Knut Hamsun would often wake after sleeping for a couple of hours. Some of us are morning people, others night people — early birds or night owls. The novelist Nicholson Baker was the only person Currey encountered who had consciously decided to practise segmented sleeping. Baker is very aware of his own writing habits and routines, and likes to experiment with new writing rituals for each new book, Currey told me, so it seems appropriate that he would carve out extra productive hours by creating two mornings in one day.

Indeed, when Baker was writing what would become A Box of Matches , a novel about a writer who gets up around 4am, lights a fire and writes while his family sleeps, Baker himself practised this ritual, then went back to bed for a second sleep. I started writing disconnected passages, and the writing came easily. It is this dreamy flow that seems to characterise creative work undertaken in the middle of the night. Between sleeps, there is the stillness, the lack of distraction and perhaps a stronger connection to our dreams. Blissfully zonked out by prolactin, our night brains allow ideas to emerge and intertwine as they might in a dream.

Night also triggers hormonal changes in our brains that suit creativity. Wehr has noted that, during night-waking, the pituitary gland excretes high levels of prolactin. This is the hormone associated with sensations of peace and with the dreamlike hallucinations we sometimes experience as we fall asleep, or upon waking. It is produced when we feel sexual satisfaction, when nursing mothers lactate, and it causes hens to sit on their eggs for long periods. It alters our state of mind. Modern technology might have muddied the channels that connect us to our dreams and encouraged routines that are out of synch with our natural patterns, yet it can also lead us back.

The industrial revolution flooded us with light, but the digital revolution might turn out to be far more sympathetic to the segmented sleeper. Technology fuels the invention of new ways of organising our time. Home working, freelancing and flexitime are increasingly common, as are concepts such as the digital nomad and the online or remote worker — all of whom might adopt a less rigid routine, one that allows night-wakers to find a more harmonious balance between segmented sleeping and work commitments. Jason Josephson Storm. Become a Friend of Aeon to save articles and enjoy other exclusive benefits Make a donation.


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Karen Emslie is a Scottish writer and essayist. A social scientist who studies different societies and cultures is called an anthropologist. Baboons are social animals and live in troops.

WHY Sleep is critical for the Body and Brain - Science of Sleep

The scientists who study them are known as biologists. They have specialized teeth and digestive organs that allow them to eat gum from trees. For digital information the type stored by computers , those data typically are numbers stored in a binary code, portrayed as strings of zeros and ones.

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Such evolutionary changes usually reflect genetic variation and natural selection, which leave a new type of organism better suited for its environment than its ancestors. These scientists can study many different subjects, including the microbiology and genetics of living organisms, how species change to adapt, and the fossil record to assess how various ancient species are related to each other and to modern-day relatives. A habitat can be home to thousands of different species. Some journals publish papers from all fields of science, technology, engineering and math, while others are specific to a single subject.

The best journals are peer-reviewed: They send all submitted articles to outside experts to be read and critiqued. The goal, here, is to prevent the publication of mistakes, fraud or sloppy work. On the internet. A term for what can be found or accessed on the internet. People dream during REM sleep, but their bodies can't move. In non-REM sleep, breathing and brain activity slow, but people can still move about.

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Relating to gatherings of people; a term for animals or people that prefer to exist in groups. Read another version of this article at Science News. Nunn and D. Sleep in a comparative context: Investigating how human sleep differs from sleep in other primates.

The myth of the eight-hour sleep - BBC News

American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Published online February 14, The displays that dazzle revelers on July 4th and many other holidays are the result of chemists and other researchers working to create and choreograph pyrotechnic theater in the night sky. Teens caught in the U. It probably emits a faint haze of particles. Scientists have now taken the temperature of the haze around a lab-made black hole and confirms these objects are only mostly dark. Blame it on the sun. Extreme space weather events begin when a blob of plasma erupts from the sun and streams toward Earth.

Skip to main content. Lab Scientists Say Analyze This! Technically Fiction. Gravity Waves. As risks of falling off from branches decreased, sleep quality improved. This, in turn, would have improved our cognitive abilities and so on goes the positive feedback cycle till humans evolved the most powerful minds.

Still, the hypothesis is not without its flaws. For instance, their small size should have allowed mouse lemurs to sleep efficiently in protected tree crevices. Yet, they spend so much time sleeping. Skip to navigation Skip to content.

Why Humanity Slept Why Humanity Slept
Why Humanity Slept Why Humanity Slept
Why Humanity Slept Why Humanity Slept
Why Humanity Slept Why Humanity Slept
Why Humanity Slept Why Humanity Slept
Why Humanity Slept Why Humanity Slept
Why Humanity Slept Why Humanity Slept
Why Humanity Slept Why Humanity Slept
Why Humanity Slept

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