Thursday, March 22, 2012

Unbroken sleep a modern phenomena?

The Guardian reports: [edited]

Roger Ekirch's book, 'At Day's Close: A History of Nighttime''s most fascinating revelation is that our pre-industrial ancestors experienced what Ekirch calls 'segmented sleep': there was 'first sleep' until midnight, followed by a 'second sleep'.

In between, they tended the fire, read or talked, had sex, smoked and meditated on the events of the previous day. Electric lighting has altered our sleep patterns and robbed us of this nocturnal hiatus.

In fact, Ekirch contends that the 'gradual elimination' of night has impaired the quality of our dreams and deprived us of 'a better understanding of our inner selves'.

480pp, Weidenfeld, £20

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