Friday, March 25, 2005

On Sleep

Perhaps it's hard for the uninitiated to imagine, but with their 10 pound body weight and sneaky little soft paws cats can stomp. They come stomp on my body in the mornings when the food has happened to run out the night before. Stomp stomp stomp (cute little mew) stomp stomp STOMP. Sometimes for good effect, two try it at the same time and then there's a fight right there on the bed.

Usually I am so out of it I don't make the connection and just get irritated by the cat. "Come here kitty, lets play get stuffed way at the bottom of the covers..." Only once I am vertical and moving about do I realize that food is probably the issue and do something to change that.

So I got to thinking about sleep patterns, their relation to age, and how they might relate to the natural condition.

Cats I think have a natural and fortunate coincidience to have a good sleep pattern for living with the modern human. Many of the creatures they hunt for food are active at night, dusk, and dawn. Daytime can get hot, has lots of light so their predators can see them... so can be skipped with no great loss to their biological timelines. Dusk and dawn on the other hand, are a great time to catch both rodent/reptile food, and avians. Birds (or so I am told) have diminished ability to fly and see in low light conditions. They are probably easier to catch then if you are a cat. Reptiles are likely to be pretty slow in the morning, and rodents (who probably can see really well in the darkness) are also begining and ending their activity.

So when Mr. Human goes to work, it's natural for the cat to sleep the day away. (I know they do this because they are all groggy, scruffed from sleeping and slow to come to the door if I come home during the middle of the day.)

Night for cats seems to be also a good time to sleep, but there are times when they won't settle down or shut up that makes me think most of their social time in the feral state is done at night.

Ok so my point is they are pretty well suited to fit a modern human's schedule of activity.

What about humans? In what ancient situation was it a good idea for grandpa to fall asleep spontainiously? Why do teenagers have such bizarre schedules? Why on earth would it be a good idea for a human infant to be awake and noisy periodically during the night? (No apologies to my Mom needed, I was the one that would sleep on a schedule remember?)

I think its the group. The group of proto-humans sat around and did their thing in their semi-cured skins and the folks that had sleep patterns that worked lived better.

Think about it, grandpa isn't out catching bison anymore. He's too old for that. (Fuck, I am too old for that and I am still in my 30's.) But, he's got a lifetime of experience behind him. He's got grand children around, so somebody damn well had better be awake at odd hours to keep an eye on things. So his old body makes him sleep away the afternoons, and keeps him up late, and wakes him at 4 am.

The younger folks, well they need to be full of piss and vinegar to do the young adventurous stuff. Go meet the other tribes (and sometimes fight them), and chase down the ambitious stuff.

The middle agers (20 - 30 I mean, not you aged yuppie fucks) are active in the day and sleep early at night, keeping the pulse of their hunting, gathering and tasks in sync with daylight. The old guys are there sleeping, but that's ok they'll stay awake and throw rocks at the hyenas later. That young guy, well he's got energy anytime and can go full bore any time he needs. I envy him.

So I think sleep changes in life cycle for a purpose. That's my point. Now, if I could only figure out how to make the cat not freak out about food when he can see the bottom of the bowl. Tilt your head to the side fuzzball! Eat the stuff on the side. Stomp stomp STOMP.