Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sleep Issues? Try the Bi-Modal Approach.

The BBC News group has been running something of a series on sleep patterns, and a startling development has arisen from research: it seems that, prior to the 1700s, people used to sleep twice every night, punctuated by a couple of hours of activity in the middle! Really! n addition, it appeared to be the norm rather than the exception to sleep patterns. Here's the skinny:
In 2001, researcher Roger Ekirch from Virginia Tech published At Day's Close: Night in Times Past a book that contained more than 500 historical references to the fact that folks went to bed at dusk, slept for four hours or so, got up and did active things for an hour or two, then returned to bed for another four hours of shuteye.
His information came from a variety of sources, including diaries, court records, medical books, an anthropological study of a tribe in Nigeria, and even literature like Homer's Odyssey.
Activities between the "first sleep" and "second sleep" included visiting neighbors, going to the bathroom (which, of course, was not exactly in the adjoining room), smoking, and praying. In fact, entire prayer books were written that contained nothing but prayers for that specific waking time. Oh, and they had sex as well.
In fact, a doctor's manual in 16th century France specified that the BEST time to conceive was during this particular time of night, reasoning that the participants were less likely to be tired from the arduous work of the day and more willing to engage in amour. sounds like it was a male doctor who made that one up!
References to this sleep pattern began to disappear in the 17th century for a variety of reasons: night time was no longer the domain of criminals and ne'er-do-wells, and street lights after a fashion were becoming more plentiful. Apparently, then, technology reversed a long-standing sleep arrangement, and now we expect eight hours of uninterrupted snoozing...though we seldom get it.
In fact, some pundits have recently begun to think that those with "sleep maintenance insomnia" might well be returning to this prior pattern. Heck, I know a LOT of people who do this on a regular basis:
new parents!


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