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Before the rise of industry, it was normal for people to sleep in two phases each night.

People had no set bedtimes. Sleeping was determined by whether or not there were things to do. Most people would have a first and second sleep, with a couple of hours awake inbetween. This is probably the way humans are supposed to sleep.

Modern schedules don't really let us do that. Perhaps we should think about changing that.

sciencealert.com/humans-used-t

@InvaderXan i often think about that when i read books from before the industrial revolution, most characters wake up at like 11 and then go to work

@Incandescente
Yeah, and all of those stories where things happen in the middle of the night. There was a reason the characters were awake in the middle of the night!

@Ethancdavenport
I've read a few other things about multiphasic sleep patterns. The way people traditionally sleep in some Mediterranean countries, for instance, with 6 hours at night and 2 in the afternoon. Interesting how flexible it can potentially be.

@InvaderXan sequential night sleeping seems like it could be good for couples if u know what I’m saying. ;)

@Ethancdavenport
It was something which couples apparently used to make good use of...

@InvaderXan if I was cohabiting with a partner I certainly would!

@InvaderXan i actually fell into this pattern for a while, after i gave up on trying to stay employed. unfortunately, it later resulted in sleeping only three hours a night because i for some reason once i wake up now, i can't go back to sleep for hours, even if i'm tired af.

@lyliawisteria
Hmmm... Yeah, I guess it's troublesome if you can't catch the second half. Insomnia is awful and I know just what that's like. 😕

@InvaderXan
This is one of my favourite things to tell people about!!

@Galdrakinn
I find lots of people suddenly realise why they keep waking up in the middle of the night when you tell them, too...

@InvaderXan
Yeah for sure. My grandparents always woke up in the night and went downstairs to do some reading for a bit before heading back up.

@Galdrakinn
Gosh, that really highlights how recent this switch to single phase sleep is!

@InvaderXan @Galdrakinn

this reminds me off the top of my head about joh n lemon waking up in the middle of the night to write "Across the universe"

im sure theres better examples tho

@lugh @Galdrakinn
Writing is probably a good use for that stretch of time. Especially seeing as you're more likely to remember dreams if you wake up immediately after them. Makes for a good source of inspiration!

@InvaderXan gotta try that now, my REM cycles are usually in 3-5 hr cycles, and happen 2-4 times

i can brake that up!

@InvaderXan i already do this. tend to conk out for 1.5-3 hours (1-2 rem cycles) then wake up around the witching hour, do some night crew posting, then finish my sleep till 8:30am for work. I am always more rested doing that than any single block schedule.

@Zoe
Nice that you can get a schedule like that to work! I need to try and make an effort to do something similar, myself.

@InvaderXan the hardest part was actually figuring out what my body wanted? it took years because you can only really like, experiment when you have days to sleep only when you want which is harder and harder in capitalist society.

I had to gradually figure out which sized blocks made me feel the most rested, then figure out when to best put them. ugh. i'm jealous of the people who can do two perfect 3 hour naps.

@Zoe
Yeah, me too. And sadly, experimenting is... Yeah, not so easy. Especially when you're like me and get less than enough all week followed by a big rebound at the weekend.

I used to have an app on my phone which measured my sleep cycles, to figure out how long my sleep cycles lasted. That was pretty useful actually, I should probably try and find something like it again...

@InvaderXan i used to do this… well the sequence was more like

- get incredibly stressed out that i cannot sleep thru the night
- do research and find out about bi-modal sleep
- try it out for real

now i might be doing it again with having to get up in the middle of the night to feed my baby daughter, but her patterns are rather… more erratic 😅

@meena
Hah! I guess babies add a random element into the equation. Though at least you have practice at not needing a solid block of 8 hours?

@InvaderXan the two of us get by very well on naps, but my partner needs a solid block

which is why i've volunteered to take on all (most of) the night shifts

that, and the fact that in the last couple of months of pregnancy my partner's had severe insomnia (along other discomforts)

@meena
I guess it's all about doing things in a way which is the least taxing for everyone involved. It's nice that the two of you can find some arrangement which works, in any case!

@InvaderXan I know that this used to be a thing in medieval Europe, and that there was a successful campaign during the industrial revolution to shift to a single night's sleep - but I don't know how this was in other parts of the world.

One interesting point of comparison would be to measure the sleep patterns of uncontacted tribes (from a distance, for obvious reasons).

@polychrome
From what I've real, 2-phase sleep has been reported in African and South American tribes. Also in experiments where people naturally settle into a 2-phase pattern. It seems to just be a human thing more generally.

Though admittedly, I'm no expert.

@InvaderXan I love reading about this. Nothing ignites my anticapitalism like realizing that even something fundamental and universal as sleep has been turned against us.

This also sheds some light on why newborns' sleep schedules can be so taxing for new parents

@bedap
Yeah, it feels like we've all been messed with in the name of Productivity™. 😐

@InvaderXan I used to do this before I had meds, though it was more to maximise the possible number of hours for sleep than anything else. By going to sleep when I did, I could guarantee anything up to 12 hours if I really needed it. (And then I had another 4ish hour nap before I had to get up, after a couple of hours for homework)

I would go back to it with how early I'm getting up for classes, but so far I've found that either I wake up way too early or I never get enough sleep.

@dartigen
Yeah, it's difficult when you have a fixed schedule which you need to work around, I guess.

@InvaderXan I imagine there'd be extended double sleeps in very hot climates as well - in summer, temperatures don't usually drop to sleep-able until maybe 2-3am, but the sun is up again by 5am.

But, it's often too hot through the early afternoon to do anything anyway, so you might as well nap. (It's difficult to do where I live, but not a lot of buildings here are engineered for passive cooling so in other countries it might not be so bad.)

@dartigen
A bit like the way people in Spain traditionally take a siesta in the mid-afternoon, I guess?

@InvaderXan Yeah, I have a feeling that's probably where the siesta originated from, though I don't know of anything similar in other hot-climate cultures (or at least, any cases where it has an actual name).

@dartigen
Sadly, with the exception of Spanish influenced places like the Philippines, similar things in other cultures have probably been steamrollered by European colonialism... 😕

Though, while there wasn't a particular name for it, all the people I worked with in Hong Kong would take a nap at their desk in the mid-afternoon. A few in Japan did so too.

@dartigen @InvaderXan When I was in Sicily we had siestas. Dunno about the rest of the south, didn't seem to be a thing in Rome, but I didn't know many Romans.

@InvaderXan I'm doing a lot of research that touches on this, and other aspects of the history of Night in Urban environments!

@MordecaiPinhas
Oh, interesting. In urban environments generally, I'm guessing it involves a lot of things to do with street lights too. Are you looking only at effects on people, or are you including wildlife too...?

@InvaderXan I'm looking at the socio-cultural history, so not so much focus on science and wildlife

@InvaderXan Although there is a historian, Wolfgang Schivelbusch, who does really fascinating stuff by looking at the ways societies and their technologies (in this case, lighting) mirror each other

@InvaderXan once for half a month I tried the Uberman polyphasic sleep schedule (6 times a day, 20-minute powernaps each, no core sleep) and it was surprisingly good. I was more creative, felt more refreshed, focused, productive. The adjustment period was a week, and it was not too bad.

I did it with my brother; it's much easier to do it you have someone else to rely on. It was weird at times because the schedule is rigid, so I had to sleep on a bench in a park, etc.

It was fun.

@uint8_t
Well that sounds intriguing. I wonder if I could fit something like that into my schedule...

@InvaderXan I had so much time! I want to do it again, I only need to convince @ln to do it together.

@InvaderXan
I always considered this one of the most interesting facts I've ever learned.

@InvaderXan "Until the modern era, up to an hour or more of quiet
wakefulness midway through the night interrupted the rest of most Western
Europeans, not just napping shepherds and slumbering woodsmen. Families rose
from their beds to urinate, smoke tobacco, and even visit close neighbors.
Remaining abed, many persons also made love, prayed, and, most important,
reflected on the dreams that typically preceded waking from their 'first sleep.'" 1/2

@InvaderXan "Not only were these visions unusually vivid, but their images would have intruded far less on conscious thought had sleepers not stirred until dawn. The historical
implications of this traditional mode of repose are enormous, especially in light of the significance European households once attached to dreams for their explana-
tory and predictive powers."

--"Sleep We Have Lost: Pre-Industrial Slumber in the British Isles", A. Roger Ekirch
2/2

@erosdiscordia
Very interesting... thanks for the reference. I should try and find a copy of it sometime!

@InvaderXan
I made have heard an interview with Ekirch a few years ago and it seemed to make a noe of sense.

@InvaderXan
It seems the commonly held belief that we must produce has made a mess of things.

@InvaderXan
Might have also come from literally sleeping in shifts to keep watch during the night in tribal society

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