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His research found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk.We used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night.No matter why the change happened, shortly after the turn of the 20 century the concept of two sleeps had vanished from common knowledge. Two sleeps per night may have been the method of antiquity, but tendencies towards it still linger in modern man.There could be an innate biological preference for two sleeps, given the right circumstances.Rather than staying up and active the usual sixteen hours per day, they would stay up only ten.The other fourteen hours they would be in a closed, dark room, where they would rest or sleep as much as possible.Ok, maybe your grandparents probably slept like you. But once you go back before the 1800s, sleep starts to look a lot different.Your ancestors slept in a way that modern sleepers would find bizarre – they slept twice. The existence of our sleeping twice per night was first uncovered by Roger Ekirch, professor of History at Virginia Tech.
At first, the participants would sleep huge stretches of time, likely making up for sleep debt that’s common among modern people.
Although history shows that two sleeping was common, and science indicates that it is (in some conditions) natural, there is no indication that it is better.
Two sleeps may leave you feeling more rested, but this could simply be because you are intentionally giving yourself more time to rest, relax, and sleep.
For anyone who wants to learn more about this kind of sleep, I’ve linked below to two books referenced in the writing of this article, available on Amazon.
Our Word of the Year choice serves as a symbol of each year’s most meaningful events and lookup trends.
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But next time you wake up at 2 AM and can’t sleep, just remember your great, great, great, great, great grandfather. I would encourage new visitors to have a read through the comments below for some interesting ideas and perspectives. Several clever readers noted that in order to keep a fire running through the night, we would need to get up and tend it.