I’ve turned biphasic and I don’t know how or why. It was certainly unplanned and unwanted.
As I’ve written here before, usually from the throes of insomnia’s late (or early) hours, my sleep patterns are terrible and inconsistent. Sometimes I sleep OK, something I sleep like utter shit. I fall asleep quickly as a rule, but my problem is early waking. I used to wake up and lay in bed, struggling to fall asleep, anywhere from 3am or 4am on. I began combating this by simply getting out of bed and surfing or staring at the dark room. I found that after this period of wakefulness, I was able to go back to bed and fall asleep and wake somewhat refreshed in a few hours.
Not ideal given that I do have a job, but this “biphasic” sleep interval is not unheard of, and some have postulated that such sleep routines were the norm prior to the Industrial Revolution.
Historian A. Roger Ekirch has argued that before the Industrial Revolution, segmented sleep was dominant in Western civilization. He draws evidence from documents from the ancient, medieval, and modern world. Other historians, such as Craig Koslofsky, have endorsed Ekirch’s analysis.
According to Ekirch’s argument, adults typically slept in two distinct phases, bridged by an intervening period of wakefulness of approximately one hour. This time was used to pray and reflect, and to interpret dreams, which were more vivid at that hour than upon waking in the morning. This was also a favorite time for scholars and poets to write uninterrupted, whereas still others visited neighbors, engaged in sex, or committed petty crime.
An outgrowth of this practice of relinquishing lying in bed after waking at 3am is that I’ve seemingly adopted this strange pattern in which I awake at 2am, regularly and without fail, putter around on the computer for 30 minutes to an hour, then go back to sleep. This generally leaves me feeling sleepy about 9 or 9:30 in the evening, which is when I go to bed (sometimes as late as 10:30). I sleep well until 2, go back to sleep by 3-ish, wake up about 5 on weekdays, about 6 or 7 on weekends.
It’s weird, but it gets the job done.
Leave it to me.