This was the first night of our three day camping trip in the White Mountains. We had hiked into the base of a 4,000 footer, walked the requisite 200 feet off the trail and pitched our tent and brewed some warm drinks. It gets dark around 5:00pm so we had dinner and were in bed by 6:00, no doubt that I’d be getting my 8 hours of sleep. However, I woke up at 12:00am fully rested and read to go, I then looked at my watch, realized what time it was, muttered some expletive under my breath and went back to sleep realizing the next six hours until sunrise might be tough. My dreaming was fairly fitful because I seemed to wake up every few hours. In my dreams I was continually aware that I was sleeping on the ground in a tent in the woods. I’m not sure whether or not it was the camping or the excessive amount of sleep that caused me not to have any solidified dreams.
This example reminds me of an article I recently read (and tweeted about) that talked about debunking the 8 hour/night myth of sleeping. An anthropologist spent 10 years studying sleep in various countries throughout history. He said that it was very common before the advent of electricity for people to have a first sleep and a second sleep. They would go to bed after dinner (around darkness) and sleep for four hours. Then they would wake up and read, eat, make love, etc for two hours and then go back to sleep for what they called “second sleep”. This may have been exactly what I needed on this trip. I went to bed at night and then woke up in the morning both times without electricity. Is it really possible or practical to sleep from dusk until dawn? In the northern states in the winter that time frame can be a solid 12 hours. No wonder I didn’t feel well-rested even after 12 hours of “sleep” my body clock just wouldn’t allow it.