September 7, 2013

"Ok, maybe your grandparents probably slept like you. And your great, great-grandparents."

"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. And so can you."

We've talked about the subject of 2 sleeps before on this blog. (That's why a reader sent me that link.)

The new article cites a book called "Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe." From a review at that last link:
[Craig] Koslofsky's epic history of the night reveals a revolution: how stage lights remade theater, how Lutheran mystics penetrated the night, how witch hunters fought the devil on his own nocturnal turf, how racism mirrored the presumed iniquity of blackness, and how street lights pacified cities....
That book doesn't refer to Bob Dylan, who was not afoot in early modern Europe, but "Evening's Empire" takes me to:
Though I know that evenin’s empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping...
The thing about first and second sleep is that — here in mid-modern America — if you accept the opportunity of the wakeful time after a first sleep, you need to believe there's a second sleep in the offing. But who has that kind of confidence? Back in the 18th century, they didn't have electric lights. They didn't have computer monitors. After an hour or 2 of whatever they did in the dark — we're told they reflected, prayed, talked, had sex, and smoked — they'd be in the right condition to slip back to sleep. But reading the news of the world on a lit up screen and writing about it, I can't think of second sleep as anything more than a vague hope. What was supposed to be an interval becomes the entire next day.

The intersleep has mission creep.

13 comments:

Skyler said...

I haven't read any of these. But my daughter sleeps through the night and always has. This is not a product of culture.

I think that history is written by insomniacs and that skews the written record.

Bob said...

Catholic monks that practiced the traditional Liturgy of the Hours slept in two cycles; first after Compline (around 9:00 p.m.), then wake for Matins at midnight, a brief pause and then Lauds, then back to bed at 3:00 a.m., and back up at 6:00 a.m. for Prime. Total 6 hours sleep. Current monastic practice is much less strict for most orders.

St. George said...

I just finished the new book The Age of Edison. It's not so much about the invention of the light bulb as it is about the effects on America when the nation was first wired. Edison's genius was not so much his 'try anything' inventing wizardry but his genius for industrial planning. The trick was getting cities wired.

If we had had today's legal system and government that Edison had back then, huge sections of the nation still be using candles.

Psychiatrists wrote that electric lights would have hideous effects on human behavior.

Animal lovers were outraged that tall electrically lit towers killed thousands and thousands of birds and insects.

Factories and buildings everywhere burned down, killing scores, due to incompetent wiring by newfangled "electricians" who were unlicensed and unregulated.

Sleazy salespeople tricked housewives into switching from gas to electric lights. (Rich people had private dynamos and argued about whether servants' quarters should have electricity, or, if they did, whether their lights should be controlled by the master of the house.

Worst, perhaps, linemen in big cities routinely got electrocuted above busy streets, fire and smoke shooting out of all their orifices, their corpses left dangling. It was scandalous!

Can you imagine the lawsuits? The do-gooders who would delay electricity's introduction? Maybe it's not too late. Maybe we should have a de-electrification movement. It will save precious energy, cut pollution, bring families back together, and save the lives of millions of beetles.

surfed said...

If you go to bed at 9 - 10pm, then 4 or 5 in the morning as a wake up is an entirely reasonable time frame. The first thing you have to do is kill the television. And it pretty much deserves to die anyway for it's various and continuing sins... And if you have an exercise routine early in the morning (in lieu of milking the cows) you're good to go. Second sleep has been relegated to the dustbin of history so to say...

"Yes to dance beneath the diamond sky with one have waving free, Silhouetted by the sea,
Circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow"

And with Bobby's blessing off to go surfing...Fully awake.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do appreciate the article and the ammunition. This has been a point of cention with my SO for a long time now. She sleeps more "normally", eight hours straight through, but very deep at first, and then very light after about 3 or 4 in the morning. I, on the other hand, tend to double sleep, and have done so for more than 30 years.

I found it interesting that the period between sleeps is typically fairly calm and contemplative. Back 25 years ago, when I was in law school, I used this period to do most of my studying. And, after that, participated in News groups, and then more recently blogged (at least until Ann and Meade started moderating comments and nothing would appear here for hours at a time at night during this prime blog commenting time).

Ann Althouse said...

Intersleep update: I was able to go back to sleep, and I even had a cup of coffee when I got up at 3 a.m.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

It's not unusual that my sleeper quits about 2 or 3 AM. The brain gets to churning with speculation about the direction of the world and won't relent. That's the time to get up and pay bills, or work seriously on mandolin technique, and when tired of that episode, the second sleep works just fine.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Last night (not atypical):
..to bed at 2100 hrs;
....up to pee at 0030 after one cycle;
....up again at 0300 after second cycle, too much awake for more sleep
..troll the internet, handfull of walnuts, two small cups of coffee
....the usual Drudge > Instapundit > Althouse > WSJ
....Wikipedia; Bronze Age Greek
history, linguistics;
..0500, back to bed for a final 1.5 hour nap.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I believe that Bob *was* afoot in early modern Europe, and for all time -- and so does he.

Dr.D said...

That was a FASCINATING article. Very good comments on the article, well worth reading also.

David said...

For many people the intersleep was probably the only time available for genuine social interaction. The work day was just that, a full day of work from sun up to sun down.

Rockport Conservative said...

The psychiatrist who felt electric lights might change our behavior was correct. I think computers do something to our brains to keep us from sleeping. At least they do to my brain. Just reading isn't so bad but if I am having a problem I'm working out with my computers I cannot sleep. If I close my eyes lines of programming run across my vision. I do NOT program, never have. What is up with that? Anyone?
The types of problems I have pertain to what I am writing, or what I am putting onto the computer via a program. So where do all the little lines of program come from?

ken in sc said...

My wife and I took turns getting up to feed my first son. I remember warming a bottle for him one time about 3 AM. I made myself a cup of instant coffee. Instead of coffee creamer, by mistake I put a big heaping table spoon of mayonnaise in it. I will never forget that. It was not good.