As I sit here awake at four in the morning, faced with a choice not between writing and sleep but between writing and fretting about not sleeping, I’m reminded that there are even less absolutes in life than we think.
An uninterrupted night’s sleep is not a universal human need. There’s evidence that in days gone by people used to get up in the middle of the night, potter around at other tasks, and then go back to bed. Today we tend to sleep straight through – a pattern that probably always held true for the exhausted rural peasantry – but it’s interesting to think that, like our eating patterns of breakfast, lunch and dinner, that’s as much a cultural norm as a biological necessity.
So next time you’re looking for an obscure detail to build into your fantasy world, or something that might change for your astronauts in deep space, consider messing with their sleep patterns and working out the implications.
Picture by Logan Ingalls via Flickr creative commons