How have our sleeping patterns changed over the years?

sleeping patterns

Many of us don't really give much thought to our sleep patterns. Over the years we develop a routine that fits in with our lifestyle and (hopefully) gives the amount of sleep that we personally need. Unless you're a shift worker, the majority of us tend to hit the hay between 10pm and 12am and get up between six and eight hours later. Although this has become the norm in our modern world, it certainly wasn’t always the case.

Sleep in ancient times

There’s very little evidence about how prehistoric man managed to get his full night’s sleep, but it’s likely he slept in shifts with others in his group. Sleep increased vulnerability and the chances of predator attack, particularly during the hours of darkness, which doesn’t sound very restful!

From roughly the 15th to the 17th century sleep patterns were completely different to what they are now. The lack of efficient lighting meant many people went to bed very early, especially in the winter, slept for around four hours then had another period of active wakefulness in the middle of the night. Afterwards, they’d sleep again until dawn, usually with the whole family sleeping in the same bed for warmth. 

Sleep and artificial lighting

Gradually, lighting options became more efficient and widespread, with gas lighting being developed in England in 1790. London got its first gas-lit street in 1807 and by the time Edison developed the electric lamp in 1879 street lighting was already well established. The change meant that people were no longer subject to the rhythm of nature for sleeping and began to keep later hours. The industrial revolution in the 19th century led to a huge shift in our sleep patterns, with most workers now tied to a more rigid routine. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that we finally gave up the ‘two sleeps’ approach, as it no longer fitted with our work and social habits. 

Why sleep is important

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the ‘two sleeps’ pattern actually suits many people better, so if you get tired in the middle of the afternoon then that could be why!

Whenever you like to sleep, it’s a vital part of our day and essential for restoring brain function and energy levels. Whether you’re a ‘full eight hourer’ or ‘afternoon cap napper’, prepare for your sleep routine with the perfect pyjamas made of light, crisp cotton. Getting changed into your favourite nightwear always creates the right atmosphere for sleep, and will help ease you into slumber.

View our range of pure cotton nightwear


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