Lately I've spent a lot of time considering the concept of "second sleep". Maybe you've never heard of it. I hadn't until just recently. What many of us don't realize about our current habit of 6 -8 contiguous hours sleep is that it is a relatively modern development brought on by the advent of electricity and the industrial age. Segmented sleep, also known as divided, bimodal, bifurcated, or interrupted sleep was the norm for the human race before then. Folks would retire early, sleep a few hours, awaken and be active for 1-4 hours, and then go back to bed for the remainder of the night. This routine was often supplemented with an afternoon nap. (To read more, go to: http://slumberwise.com/science/your-ancestors-didnt-sleep-like-you/ )
The reason I'm so fascinated with the practice is that I wake up a lot at night. Sometimes I can relax and fall back asleep, but more often than not my mind races headlong into trying to sort out whatever I didn't have time to deal with during the day. But because I'm also trying to not be awake, this wakefulness, rather than being useful, tends to further stress me out. Laying in bed with a restless mind is lonely and counterproductive - though I do sometimes come up with interesting plot twists in those wee hours, if only I'd get up and write them down! Sometimes I try praying, and eventually I do fall asleep again.
Anyhow, this makes me think about how far we've digressed from our natural state of being. The road of progress has in some ways taken us further from our intended destination. Our bodies are rebelling to our modern diets. Our families fracture across continents instead of remaining close. Consumerism buries us in excessive "stuff". Despite our love of technology, many of us long for simpler times.
And that's what I think about in the middle of the night.