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The forgotten medieval habit of 'two sleeps'


OverSword
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......Jane describes how just before the men arrived at their home, she and her mother had arisen from their first sleep of the evening. There was no further explanation – the interrupted sleep was just stated matter-of-factly, as if it were entirely unremarkable. "She referred to it as though it was utterly normal," says Ekirch.

A first sleep implies a second sleep – a night divided into two halves. Was this just a familial quirk, or something more?

An omnipresence

Over the coming months, Ekirch scoured the archives and found many more references to this mysterious phenomenon of double sleeping, or "biphasic sleep" as he later called it.

Some were fairly banal, such as the mention by the weaver Jon Cokburne, who simply dropped it into his testimony incidentally. But others were darker, such as that of Luke Atkinson of the East Riding of Yorkshire. He managed to squeeze in an early morning murder between his sleeps one night – and according to his wife, often used the time to frequent other people's houses for sinister deeds.

When Ekirch expanded his search to include online databases of other written records, it soon became clear the phenomenon was more widespread and normalised than he had ever imagined.

 

Read the article to discover that it may have been common to divide the night into two sections.

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I might give this a try as I have trouble sleeping all night.  Got to bed early, wake for a couple of hours then got back to sleep later.

Edited by OverSword
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22 minutes ago, OverSword said:

I might give this a try as I have trouble sleeping all night.  Got to bed early, wake for a couple of hours then got back to sleep later.

Just be sure not to "often use the time to frequent other people's houses for sinister deeds".  :ph34r:  

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