If you’re an insomniac like me, you’ve tried warm milk, OTC sleep aids, and prescriptions.
I hated being a constipated, broke zombie every morning – was there no other way?
I didn’t intend to start a sleep experiment, but I naturally fell into a biphasic sleep pattern.
Most people sleep in one long block of time, aka monophasic sleep. Other people – including most insects, birds, and animals – sleep in segments. Dual segment sleepers are biphasic;polyphasic describes 3 or more segments.
Babies are polyphasic, drifting off whenever and for as many times as they need throughout the day. On the other hand, polyphasic sleep is a distressing Alzheimer’s symptom.
Siestas are a classic example of biphasic sleep. Before industrial times, electricity, and artificial lights shoehorned us into 24-hour work/play schedules, we used post-lunchtime naps to recharge (and avoid midday heat). Another variation of biphasic sleep – the one I stumbled into – has a waking period around midnight.
Catnaps are great, but longer snoozes offer REM cycles and more restorative slumber. Naps offer improved cognition, reduced pain, mood reboots, and a more relaxed nervous system.
Wake Up Call
As the saying goes: if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve already got.
I knew aspects of my insomnia were my own fault: PM caffeine, heavy food, bright screens after 9, watching “angertainment” too close to bedtime. It’s hard to change old habits, but I knew if I kept missing sleep I’d keep feeling like garbage, getting sick, and being frazzled.
I realized another blocker, too. All insomniacs know the feeling of looking, looking, looking at the damn clock as the hours pass by. I unplugged it and decided to follow my own clock.
I easily drift off now around 8pm. My dog wakes me at midnight if I don’t get up on my own. For the next couple hours, I do relaxing things like reading. If I get online, I avoid high-stim sites and go screens down a half hour before my next chunk of sleep.
When I get sleepy again – usually 2-3 am, I drift off again and wake up around 6-7am. I’m not hard on myself, either. If I feel like sleeping all night without waking, that’s OK – my body is telling me to rest and I listen.
My way isn’t the only way, and that’s the beauty of it. Listening to your innate body clock is all you need.
Here are a few videos to get you started – pleasant dreams!
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