We can learn about flexible sleeping patterns from our domestic cat companions

Humans are very strongly habituated to sleeping in one continuous session during the night. The domestic cat tends to sleep at any time whenever they are tired. The former is very rigid and the latter is very flexible.

Cat sleeping. They are very flexible in their sleeping patterns
Cat sleeping. They are very flexible in their sleeping patterns. Picture and words: Michael.
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Admittedly, I am writing almost exclusively for retired people who have the option to sleep whenever they want to. But elderly people can learn from domestic cat behaviour. Based upon personal experience, elderly people sleep less and their sleep is often disturbed more often.

It is very difficult, normally, for an elderly person to achieve that utopian goal of sleeping continuously for eight hours at night. Especially if you have a cat to disturb you! And then there are those incessant pee stops. The bladder is much week even for a man and you have to go to the loo (tolet) once, twice or even three times at night.

But the point I’m making is that retired people should be open to the possibility of sleeping whenever they feel tired. If they are awake at night they should do something rather than tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep again. They should follow the lead of their cat. If they have a cat, it is quite likely that she or he is active at night anyway.

What can you do at night? Well you can sit in bed, awake and do some work on your computer with your cat on your lap. Your cat will appreciate it, you will get tired and within an hour to you will be ready for sleep. You will fall asleep quickly. You are being flexible in your sleep patterns.

You should allow yourself to fall asleep when you feel tired and it is rather pointless to try and shoehorn your lack of tiredness at bed time to try and fall asleep at the time. If you feel tired at 7pm then fall asleep then. If that means you wake up at midnight then wake up then and do some work. There is always something to do or read a book or the newspaper.

We can learn a lesson from our domestic cat companions. They don’t try and shoehorn their lives into an acceptable, society created, pattern. They sleep when they are tired and they behave instinctively.

Although the domestic cat is in general crepuscular, by which I mean they hunt a dawn and dusk, nowadays most domestic cats are perhaps more active at night than daytime but there is no clear-cut demarcation between day and night. We should lose the habit that we have to go to sleep at night time. We should dispense with that demarcation between darkness and light and go to sleep when tired and eat when we’re hungry and forget all the patterns that we think we have to comply with.


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