Segmented sleep is making a comeback

0

“The phenomenon had different names in different places: first and second sleep, first nap and dead sleep, evening sleep and morning sleep,” said Benjamin Reiss, professor of English at Emory University and author of “Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep has created our restless world. He added that rather than being a choice at the time, it was simply something people did, as it fit with agricultural and artisanal work patterns.

At the time, in addition to being a useful time to conceive, the waking period was also considered a prime time to take potions and pills and to aid digestion (one slept on one side of the body during first sleep, then the other side during the second sleep), Professor Ekirch said.

There was no pressure to get to the factory on time, to catch a train or to send the children to school, as most of the work was done at or near the house, the professor said. Reiss. Sleep was not governed by the clock, but by the rhythms of night and day and the changing seasons.

There were also negative reasons for segmented sleep.

“Sleeping surfaces – often a sack full of grass, or if you’re lucky, wool or horsehair – made it harder than it is today to sleep for a long time uninterrupted,” said Professor Reiss. And there were, of course, health issues. For example, “without modern dentistry, a toothache might start beating in the middle of the night.”

Everything changed with the Industrial Revolution, emphasizing profit and productivity; the belief was that people who confined their sleep to a single interval gained an advantage. The increasing prevalence of artificial lights has allowed for later bedtimes, leading to sleep compression.

Fast forward a few hundred years, and we’ve gotten used to compressed sleep. Well, some of us have.

Share.

Comments are closed.