The Medieval Sleeping Habit That Could Boost Your Energy Levels

The lifestyle of medieval times is rather antiquated in comparison to ours. That does not mean, however, that certain lifestyle habits would not work in today’s times. This is the case for the old habit of “two sleeps” – known in modern times as biphasic sleep. This involves sleeping at two different times in a 24-hour cycle. These two, shorter sleeps, occur typically once in the AM and again at night.

How Did Medieval People Sleep in Two Shifts?

According to historians, those in medieval times who engaged in this habit slept in two shifts of equal length. Typically, this would involve waking up around midnight or slightly later, and engaging in a waking period known as “the watch”. For some groups, such as peasants, this period was used for farming maintenance. For different classes, this was a moment of socialisation, prayer, and study.

Then, a return to sleep in the later hours, roughly 3 hours per shift, depending on the person. Due to lack of artificial light, sleep and waking was guided by exposure to sunlight in previous centuries. Modern lighting techniques mean we are typically awake longer than our ancestors were, and historic sleep was subject to seasonal changes.

With this, it is worth noting that the lifestyle and work our ancestors engaged in are vastly different to ours. Much more of the population were involved in farm work, which relies on natural sunlight and working within that timespace. Those who worked in servitude often used the nighttime to prepare their employer’s requests for the morning.

What Are The Benefits of Two Sleeps?

Biphasic sleep could work for those with unusual sleep habits due to their lifestyle. If your family structure relies on it, e.g, having babies or small children, or your job calls on you to work inconsistent shifts, biphasic sleep could work for you. A mixed daily schedule means you may feel unable to sleep fully when you need to, and it could be easier to break it up in accordance with your energy levels during the day and night.

This method could work with some cases of insomnia. Some with insomnia have space to catch up with sleep during the day when they feel excess tiredness, which lessens the negative effect of only sleeping a handful of hours during the night. For those who suffer with insomnia due to anxiety, knowing that the typical eight hour night is relatively knew may bring relief.

Two shorter sleeps, similarly to naps, can help boost energy and productivity. Many of us feel a slump of energy in the afternoon, and a short sleep could reverse such effects. This could help boost productivity in your work and ensure you feel well-rested throughout the day. With this comes greater brain function, with improvements in our mood and memory.

For those whose schedule allows it, and suffer from poor energy during the day, two sleeps can be better than one. There is evidence that humans slept in two shifts not just in medieval Europe, but across history and throughout the world. It is thought that sleeping more than once per day may could be natural to humans. Many of us find ourselves waking up in the middle of the night. Research suggests this could be wired into our brains. Biphasic sleep allows an opportunity to sleep in accordance with your body’s personal demands.

By Bethany Gemmell

Content Writer at myza

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