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(BBC-US)   For most of human history, people slept in two distinct shifts every night, and when they were sleeping it was with an assortment of immediate family members, bedbugs, servants, and total strangers. Farkers shrug, wonder what the big deal is   (bbc.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, Sleep, short sleep, historian Roger Ekirch, first sleep, people's houses, first sleep of the evening, artificial illumination, Nine-year-old Jane Rowth  
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1039 clicks; posted to STEM » on 27 Jan 2022 at 2:50 AM (16 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2022-01-26 10:48:00 PM  
Q: Then why do we now sleep straight through the night in our own beds?
A:  Because we can.
 
2022-01-27 12:01:26 AM  

Sgygus: Q: Then why do we now sleep straight through the night in our own beds?
A:  Because we can.


More that we were trained to it.

In the pre-Industrial world, you generally went to sleep earlier than we do.  Light was a flaming biatch to make in large quantities.  You could do some tasks after the sun fully set, but after maybe two hours, you better like peering at something directly in front of your face with a rushlight candle throwing less light than a firefly's ass.  So, you went to sleep, then woke up, then went back to sleep, then woke up in the morning.  You slept 8-ish hours but over about a 10 hour span.

When the Industrial Revolution happened, people's schedules went through a radical change.  For one, people had schedules.  Pre-Industrial clocks were for shiat.  Most people didn't worry about tracking anything more precise than an hour - and the vast, vast majority of people were farmers, so that was perfectly fine.  But factory owners wanted to operate their machinery as close to constant as possible to maximize their profit.  They wanted workers to be on strict schedules.  And the newer clocks allowed for tracking of individual seconds - they drifted by a hilarious amount to our eyes, but compared to what came before, they were precision instruments.  Showing up in the 8 o'clock hour was not going to cut it - you showed up at 8 o'clock, by God!  And people worked psychotically long days.  18 hour days was pretty normal in Industrial factories.  When you got off work, you went home and slept like a corpse.  Because you were knackered.  And you worked every day - church was for closers.  Even when workdays retreated to such hippie-socialist levels as 14 hours a day, you still had precious little to do but go into a coma when you got home.  A two-phase sleep simply could not be accomplished anymore.  And we told people you corpsed it every night or you would farking die from exhaustion.  We relentlessly train kids from a young age to act like someone hammered a rail spike into their heads when they go to bed, or they are deficient unthings.  We don't sleep 8-hours straight because we can, but because we were trained to do it or else.

I have spent the last three years or so methodically trying to fall into the pattern described in the article.  After dinner at 7, I go to bed and am asleep by about 9 at the latest.  And sleep until about midnight.  And then I get up and putter about until 3am or so, before going back to bed.  I'm not saying I'm living some utopian existence, but I used to wake in the middle of the night and lay there desperately building myself into a tizzy about not falling back to asleep, and felt like shiat in the morning.  Now, I've turned that into fully-awake productive time, and when I go back to bed, I'm out like you shot me.  And I feel much better in the mornings.  My wife thinks I'm dotty as fark, but since she gets free run of the house in the evenings, she is quite willing to ignore my foibles.
 
2022-01-27 2:52:53 AM  
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2022-01-27 7:48:32 AM  
This really isn't true. Better research has shown that the "second sleep" phenomenon was relatively short-lived by historical scales, and geographically limited. But because it happened to Europeans in relatively recent history, it got taken for a general practice.

If you look at what we know about our hunter-gatherer past or even settled farming communities, as well as comparisons to the few remaining hunter-gatherer or pastoral nomadic societies, which account for a far larger proportion of our history* than the period where "second sleep" is known to have taken place, you find that people sat up late around the fire telling stories, then slept through until the morning.

If you want to pedantically debate "history" vs "pre-history" you can, but even then you still only get at most 1000 years of two shift sleeping in Europe versus 9000 years of single shift sleeping across the whole world.
 
2022-01-27 7:56:23 AM  
You had to get up in the middle of the night to tend to the fire. If the fire goes out - you die. There's no matches to reignite it easily. You'll be rubbing sticks together if it goes out. So it's vitally important that you add wood halfway through the night.
 
2022-01-27 8:01:29 AM  
That was one of the more interesting articles I've ever read on Fark.  Once in a while, a gem like this comes along here.
 
2022-01-27 8:09:09 AM  
For most of human history we didnt have reliable heat or light to enable us to be by ourselves as we slept or do useful things past sunset

Is subby also going to lament that we dont eat all the horrible things people ate in most of human history, or that we dont have so much disease now, or any of the other things that changed dramatically with the industrial revolution and advamced tech?
 
2022-01-27 8:17:00 AM  
I did this for a while when I had to go to the gym at 4 am to use the therapy pool, the only time it was available.  I felt super lazy and weird going back to sleep at 7 but too tired to stay awake.
 
2022-01-27 9:02:02 AM  
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2022-01-27 9:15:15 AM  
My parents do a version of this. My mom is on dialysis and three days a week her start time is 5am. My mom will sleep from about midnight to 4am and then do 3 hours of dialysis, then come home and sleep another 2-3 hours in the morning. My dad keeps the same schedule because he drives her.
 
2022-01-27 9:38:00 AM  
Honestly I felt better rested working nights and doing a version of this even though I was getting less sleep overall.

Get home around 5ish in the AM, get 4 hours of sleep between 6 and 10, go about my day, get another 2 hours of sleep between 4:30 and 6:30PM, have dinner, get some exercise, and run back to work.

I got a solid 8 hours of sleep last night and took two cups of coffee to actually wake up.
 
2022-01-27 10:39:50 AM  

lifeslammer: For most of human history we didnt have reliable heat or light to enable us to be by ourselves as we slept or do useful things past sunset

Is subby also going to lament that we dont eat all the horrible things people ate in most of human history, or that we dont have so much disease now, or any of the other things that changed dramatically with the industrial revolution and advamced tech?


Pretty sure my headline was judgment-free.
 
2022-01-27 1:30:12 PM  
I know people in Nigeria who do this now. They go to bed pretty early, maybe around 9 in the evening, sleep for a while, wake up from around 1 to 3, then go back to sleep and wake up about 6. This area has no electricity most of the time.
 
2022-01-27 1:39:44 PM  
Someone was trying to peddle this theory a few years back, too.  I ain't buying it.  Not for the general population, anyhow.

/Except for the person who had to get up in the night to feed the fire.
 
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