Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mysteries of the Universe: Sleep

So sometimes I ponder the mysteries of the universe (because, really, somebody has to). Today I spent the better part of my 25 minute drive to and from lessons pondering how people ever got out of bed before alarm clocks were invented. Did they just wake up with the sun or what? I finally had the sense to google it this evening, and happened upon an enlightening article.

Really interesting stuff, and it makes me want to write a novel featuring water clocks. But now I have more questions.

How did the church bell ringers and the knockers-up know when to wake up? Did they always have to employ the bladder-control method (which struck me as completely hilarious)? If they overslept mightn't they throw off the equilibrium of an entire town?? Would anyone even notice? How did they know what time to ring the church bells anyway?

Also, does anyone else ever feel bad for fictional characters' sleeping conditions? Maybe it's just because I'm a light sleeper and always have a horrible time nodding off in unfamiliar or less-than-ideal surroundings, but I'm always in awe of characters who can fall right to sleep in the woods or a cave or a prison cell and wake refreshed and ready to conquer the world. I can't even fall asleep on a comfortable couch unless I'm deathly ill, and if I'm running on less than six (but preferably eight or nine!!) hours of sleep I can barely function. I think I would be pretty much useless on an actual adventure—characters in novels don't seem to have these problems.

They don't have chapstick, either, which is one reason I'm happy to be living in this lovely modern era. I mean, I read once that pioneers put axle grease on their lips to keep them from getting chapped, but that's just gross.

And there you have it.

(Apologies for the glimpse into my peculiar brain. This is what happens when I'm not actively working on a novel.)


Esther said...

Ah, Joanna... such kindred spirits you and I :-). I had the same question you had... about how the priests, etc. did not oversleep... and then I got married and realized that there are actually people that LIKE waking up in the morning and can pop out of bed fully awake and functional at 6am every morning. So, yes, my friend... those people do exist. Oh, and after I read the article it reminded me of a story someone told me of how they visited England and were horrified when the man at the hotel asked them at what time she would like to be knocked up :-). Hee hee

Joanna Ruth Smith said...

Oh Esther I knew I could count on you to appreciate my ramblings. :-) I wonder if maybe a prerequisite for GETTING a job like bell-ringing was to have that particular innate ability. Hmmmm.

Bridgette said...

Heh! I wonder things like this too. Glad I'm not alone in my musings. :) However, I do have an internal alarm clock that goes off at 5:00 a.m. each morning. Promptly. Even if I've gone to bed at midnight. My mother is the same way, so maybe it's an inherited gene. Glad to think I could have found a job though. . . :)

Joanna Ruth Smith said...

Interesting, Bridgette! Guess the ancient world depended on people just like you. :-D

Mystery Robin said...

I think about those things all the time - or more specifically, how people survived before Advil and espresso. I think I could forgo central heat if I had espresso. ;) The sleeping thing is really interesting. Like what if your town had a slacker bell ringer? :)

Joanna Ruth Smith said...

Exactly, Mystery Robin!!

faeriechylde said...

Hahahahaha.... for some reason I had never read this post before. And I got a good laugh from it. You should share glimpses from inside your brain more often!
I'm one of those lucky people who can fall asleep anywhere, I think. But, like you, I need my sleep! At least 7 hours to function. (And that's with good strong coffee.) I think I could live without chapstick, though. I would use whatever oil/grease happened to be handy. Doesn't bother me. :D