The myth of the 8 hour sleep

Now I know why I wake up in the middle of the night, it is genetic:

His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.

And these hours weren’t entirely solitary – people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

A doctor’s manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day’s labour but “after the first sleep”, when “they have more enjoyment” and “do it better”.


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  • Hakim of phut

    I think test show people wake more than a few times during the night , most of which they  ‘dont remember’ and the deepest sleep comes at the  end of the night . So if you wake  up ( knowingly) at 4-5 am, its worth going back to sleep to wake again at 7am

    • Euan Rt

      Bit of a problem if you are supposed to be milking the cows ;-)

      • Hakim of phut

        Who says the cows have to be milked at 5am ? Do they have to catch a train?
        The dairy tankers come at all hours nowdays

      • Euan Rt

        Cows are milked 2x each day phut, as close to 12 hours apart as possible. Taking on average that a milking is 2-3 hours when would you suggest the morning milking should start?

      • Hakim of phut

        No one says the cows have to be milked twice a day either.   Some are more like  continuous milking . The little  dairy farm with the small minded dairy farmer are a thing of the past

      • Euan Rt

        You’re the farmer phut.

  • Vlad

    This is a bit of a worry Hakim, 2 funny posts in a week.  Nek minnit, you’ll be voting National. 

    • Hakim of phut

      No Wai

  • ConwayCaptain

    Sleep is a funny old thing.

    When I was at sea I was 12 yrs as Mate and kept the 4-8 watch.  Went to bed at 2130-2200 and was called at 0340.  Used to have a ZZZZZZZZZZZZ between 1300 and 1530.

    However evan after many years ashore I used to wake at 0345 and couldnt get back to sleep so used to egt up at 0500 to read the paper.  It used to drive my late wife crazy.

    I still take the dog for a walk at 0500!!!

    The other thing is that having to be on duty for long hrs as Mate when loading and this was not onkly cerebral work but also physical having to go up and down hold ladders etc I am able to go for long periods without sleep and still able to operate at quite a high level.

    ex Navy Greg  may have similar experiences.  I did do 2 weeks on Monowai and coukldnt get used to the navy system of dog watches so your watch changed each 24hrs rotation 

  • I wake up at 3.45am +/- 5 mins no matter how much (coffee or booze I have or haven’t have to drink ;) I lie there and brood about all the mofos who grind my gears and fall asleep at approx 6am. All those years spent stressing about insomnia for naught 
    Might have to chew me some baccy now I’ve been advised such behavior is normal. That or the sex. 

    • Hakim of phut

      No . Lying there without getting to sleep is abnormal.

       You should get up,  read  something light, do something ordinary , whatever. Then after half an hour go back to bed.As well  dont read or watch TV in bed, go to sleep at the same time and wake about the same time ever day. Its called sleep hygiene and it works.
      believe me Ive had the professional advice and they will say the same thing for you, unless there is something else like sleep apnoea.

    • go for the sex