Monday, November 03, 2008

Anthropology of Sleep

You know, the sleep schedule would be perfect if:

1) I didn't have to get up at 7 a.m. to teach two mornings a week. Because Val goes to sleep late, this means I am very short on sleep those mornings.

2) We didn't have department colloquium from 3:30-5:00 on Fridays. Because this is prime naptime, I have't been to colloquium in months. It's not a huge deal, but socializing at department events is just good professional practice.

3) She was SURE to go to sleep by 11. Lately she's been pretty consistent. But the nights when she won't go to sleep until after midnight are killers.

Other than that, the only issue I have is that it doesn't seem "normal!" For a baby to go to bed that LATE! And I wonder if we're being bad parents!!!!!

I used to think it was hilarious that there exists a society for the anthropology of sleep, but now I totally get it. Sleep is a natural human need, but there is so much about how we do it that is culturally contingent. Just think about it. T. came back from four years in Africa with the habit of taking naps under his desk or on the grass outside (when warm) whenever he felt like it and people thought it was really weird, but for him it had become normal.

My Granda Beth told me once, "don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty for needing a lot of sleep." She needed more sleep than Grandpa, but he liked her to get up and retire for the night at the same times he did. So she got into the habit of taking a mid-day nap. People would give her a hard time for it, like she was being lazy. But when left to my own devices, I tend to feel best with 9-10 hours a night. I am perfectly capable of sleeping for 11 hours straight. Once I slept for 14 hours straight. I think there is a genetic component at work.

Well, I'm certainly not getting 9 hours a night now; 8 at best, and always interrupted. But it's not so bad. It's doable. Less than that, however, is pretty rough.

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