Thursday, December 18, 2003


I used to sleep six nights a week as an undergraduate. Now, if I skip a night, I seem to pay a much higher price. And I thought I was supposed to need less sleep as I aged?

I had a great night with Isabel. Hurricane Isabel, that is. We lost power for about 16 hours starting at about 7 a.m., and my wife and I spent that time bailing out the sump every 30 to 45 minutes to stop water from flooding the basement and ruining hundreds of our books... there is a sort of zombie rythm one gets into when the alarm goes off that frequently.

The next morning the alarm went off and I jumped out of bed, feeling well rested. I showered and got dressed for work, only to look at the clock as I was about to depart, and realize that it was 12:30. I had slept for about one-and-a-half hours. The clock time was correct, but the alarms had all been reset to midnight. By that point I was fully awake, so I knew going back to bed was going to be difficult.

That was a rare taste of needing less sleep, because lately our circadian rhythms have been dominated by cats. And that means nocturnal activity. Theirs, not ours. It's those odd digging noises that come from the study that worry me...

The sleep deprivation study comes to mind where they placed cats on 3-inch-wide islands in the middle of a pond for several days. Cruel indeed - they ended up with psychotic cats. More psychotic that normal, that is. Our cats are occasionally psychotic with 23 hours of sleep a day. I'm psychotic with an average of six to seven hours.