Mediaeval people had two sleeps

Brian G Turner

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Yes, I remember watching those videos a while back after discussion here - a quick glance through the history section here didn't show the original discussion where I expected it.
 

thaddeus6th

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Napoleon did something like this. He only slept 4 hours a night, but it was two batches of 2 hours each with a gap in between.

I tried this once, and it wrecked both my sleep cycle and my diet (I had a very small bite to eat during the gap) the next day.
 

thaddeus6th

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Not quite the same, but I read somewhere or other that about half of Britons would be able to take a siesta (if it were the social norm), and the other half would just find it screwed with their circadian rhythms.

It is fascinating how variable the human requirement for sleep is. Napoleon/Thatcher needed only 4 hours, Einstein about 10. There's at least one woman who needs (or needed, not sure if she's still alive) an hour or less a day.
 

Alex The G and T

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This doesn't surprise me a bit. A habit I picked up when my daughters were teens and the household ran chaotic with a continually posse of their friends.

Retire earlier, to escape the hubbub.
I get my best thinking done, awake in the middle of the night, when the house is quiet. Processing the events of the previous day; and planning for the next day's endeavors.

Then, when the thinking begins looping, no longer productive; time for some reading to distract from redundant thoughts, until I drowse off again.

I find the second sleep most restful.
 

anivid

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In the South we still cherish le Midi/the Siesta between 12h and 14h - almost everything closed - go home - eat & sleep ;)
 

Gary Compton

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I do 2am to 7am for my main sleep and then at teatime I have a power nap 5-7PM

Works for me!

Am I medieval?
 

bluenimbus

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i heard about this article, perhaps it would be interesting to try this, just to see what it's like.
 

Venusian Broon

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This discussion makes perfect sense when you look at studies that have been done on sleep in healthy adults.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnogram

Has the most accessible graph showing it.

There is a first a period of about 4 hours where you have a mostly very deep, non-REM sleep. Then after that there is a lot of lighter REM sleep, including quite a number of waking moments. So there is a qualitative difference in the type of sleep either side of 'halfway'

I definitely have experienced that halfway moment - I think this is where most 'I only need 4 hours of sleep a night' people are coming up - you can feel very fresh and relaxed at that point if you wake. In fact I would then get up and go to work and ditch the REM sleep...till, probably, catching up with it at the weekend. (I used to have a very early-start job and I'm a 'night person'). No idea if that is bad for you :p.

I think for the purposes of stopping death or madness by lack of sleep, the first four hours are crucial, it would appear your mind, on the multi-year experiment I put myself through, can go into REM-debt reasonably happy.
 

jastius

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I think that most shift workers have experienced this bi-partitioned sleep pattern, its just not really discussed. However if you look up the studies done upon napping as a means of supplementing a disrupted sleep pattern as published in the journals of the APSS, SLEEP; you will clearly see the pattern of a three to four hour complete sleep cycle followed by a waking or lucid cycle followed by another sleep cycle.
Here is a link to the journal:
www.[B]journalsleep[/B].org/CurrentIssue.aspxhttp://www.bing.com/search?q=sleep+magazine+journal&x=0&y=0&form=MSNH56&qs=n&sk=#
 

anivid

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I do 2am to 7am for my main sleep and then at teatime I have a power nap 5-7PM

Works for me!

Am I medieval?

May be you are :p
- but that's what'll happen when not forced to follow society's/other's schedules - if allowed to, the body will seek out the pattern most natural for it.
My body does the same - has a break in the night sleep around 4 o'clock, where it's inhabitant rise and does some creative work - every night ;)
As I know my body to be very clever - it actually has saved me several times - I don't let my brains interfere :)
 

Gramm838

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In the South we still cherish le Midi/the Siesta between 12h and 14h - almost everything closed - go home - eat & sleep ;)


...leaving the Brit tourists who want to buy stuff fuming, because we don't want to go shopping at 10pm :(
 

anivid

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...leaving the Brit tourists who want to buy stuff fuming, because we don't want to go shopping at 10pm :(

Brit tourists ? - yeah, they're funny.
Travelling abroad for experiencing something different - then expecting it to be like home :D
Get up early and go to les puces/the markets - they close at noon ;)
 

The Judge

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I can't say I'm convinced of this as being the norm throughout all Western (and/or other) society everywhere pre the Renaissance.

A 4 hour sleep, plus hour or two awake, plus another 4 hours makes 9 or 10 hours. Even up here in the frozen north, we don't get 10 hour nights all year round, so that means either people are going to bed before dusk, or sleeping in well after dawn, at least in the summer. That is, they're wasting valuable daylight to have two hour break in the middle of the night when it's cold and dark. Using that time for sex, or silent meditation, OK, but reading and visiting?? Burning costly candles? Going out in the pitch-black? I can't see your average villager doing any of that. (And it might be my age, but I don't count getting up and going to the loo in the middle of the night as being "active".)

And as anivid says, in the south of Europe, especially in the summer, they would be resting in the terrible noon-day heat, and instead staying up late and rising early to make use of the cooler ends of the day, so where's the 4+2+4 theory there?

(I've been trying to remember what I knew about canonical hours, to see whether monks took any notice of a second sleep pattern, but I'm too lazy to check.)

For me, it's a question of daylight. People, certainly in the countryside, worked to its rhythms. In the winter, with its long nights, they might well have woken at some point and got up to pee and think about things, but in the summer, they'd have slept less, and perhaps had a rest at noon. So yes, the overall idea of not needing 8 hours straight is there, but not quite as formalised as the author makes it sound.
 

AnyaKimlin

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It is worth noting that anybody who wrote about it and owned a bed wasn't going to be a peasant. It does fit with the rhythm the monks had though because Matins was around 2 am.
 

anivid

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I can't say I'm convinced of this as being the norm throughout all Western (and/or other) society everywhere pre the Renaissance.

A 4 hour sleep, plus hour or two awake, plus another 4 hours makes 9 or 10 hours. Even up here in the frozen north, we don't get 10 hour nights all year round, so that means either people are going to bed before dusk, or sleeping in well after dawn, at least in the summer. That is, they're wasting valuable daylight to have two hour break in the middle of the night when it's cold and dark. Using that time for sex, or silent meditation, OK, but reading and visiting?? Burning costly candles? Going out in the pitch-black? I can't see your average villager doing any of that. (And it might be my age, but I don't count getting up and going to the loo in the middle of the night as being "active".)

And as anivid says, in the south of Europe, especially in the summer, they would be resting in the terrible noon-day heat, and instead staying up late and rising early to make use of the cooler ends of the day, so where's the 4+2+4 theory there?

(I've been trying to remember what I knew about canonical hours, to see whether monks took any notice of a second sleep pattern, but I'm too lazy to check.)

For me, it's a question of daylight. People, certainly in the countryside, worked to its rhythms. In the winter, with its long nights, they might well have woken at some point and got up to pee and think about things, but in the summer, they'd have slept less, and perhaps had a rest at noon. So yes, the overall idea of not needing 8 hours straight is there, but not quite as formalised as the author makes it sound.

Yes – your calculation sounds more like hibernating :)
The problem with such saying as the medieval one being that the generalisation/induction may lie on a very fragile number of cases/empiricism – further we don’t know much about common people from those times – which were not at all democratic.
IMO the term « the dark ages » is founded more on the little we know about those times, than them not being enlightened – sure they were, the few ones ;)
Monks were more inclined to follow cloister orders with - if memory serves me well - prayers every fourth hours, than their own natural sleep patterns.
The masses were not free men during the medieval times, if not slaves they were in the (sometimes severe) service of a higher authority (feudal or ecclestical) – or their trade.
Seldom we heard about somebody being able to follow own inclinations, bodily or whatever.
In industrialised societies we’re trained (like rats) to follow the general pattern (6-8 hours) – but as we are VERY different beings on this planet , I sincerely suggest "the reality" to be much more diverse – also as for sleep patterns.
As we can see – and have seen – the human body is adaptable.
Listen to your body – and sooner or later you’ll find out - at least when you get retired :D
 

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