Hope for Insomniacs

By Kathy NickersonOctober 2nd, 2017mercyNo Comments


I think I might have discovered a miracle. Or, at the very least, an explanation.

Normally, sleep and I are best friends. I’ve been known to snooze for nine, blissful hours in one delicious stretch. However, at certain stages of my creative process, sleep and I break up.

I start waking around 3:00, but I can usually hush the voices enough to doze again until 4:00. Then, I give up and move into the living room. There, I sit in my rocking chair in the corner and try to record everything my characters are saying.

They are a chatting bunch at 4:00am.

One of those mornings, my kind, forbearing husband came into the living room and told me about an article he had recently read on “Second Sleep.” Evidently, our ancestors used to sleep in cycles. Before the invention of electric lights, they would come in from a hard day’s labor, too worn out to do anything creative (or amorous) and climb into bed just after dusk.

Then, they would naturally wake up around midnight, light a candle, and spend a few hours reading, writing, talking with their spouse, and engaging in other activities they couldn’t enjoy when the kids were awake.

Eventually, they went back to sleep and slept for several more hours. This was known as Second Sleep.

Evidently, this was quite common. Many brilliant and creative people followed this pattern. Maybe this is part of the answer for the insomnia of our generation. Maybe our bodies are trying to tell us something about rhythms that were once perfectly natural.

At the very least, this explains why I fall asleep in my chair after supper and then wake up in my bed at 4:00 am with a bunch of imaginary characters chattering in my ear.

I don’t think two sleep cycles will ever become my norm. I’m still partial to my eight hours at once. But, it’s nice to know these interruptions might be natural rhythms instead of ailments. Cue the creative genius!

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