Why We Care So Much About Sleep
t’s Sleep Week on The Project, meaning it’s time to talk all things shut-eye. Today we’re looking at the history of sleep, and what those dreams mean.
What’s not to love about shutting down into a state of semi-consciousness, letting your muscles unclench and your mind empty?
For some it comes easy, but others? Not so much.
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How we get our shut-eye has changed over the years; the Greeks saw sleep as halfway between life and death. They were keen on the idea that sleep was when gods messaged us with answers to our questions.
Fast-forward a millennia or so, and medieval people tried not to sleep because they worried about demonic possession.
Then in the Middle Ages, we actually used to have two sleeps a day. We’d crash when the sun went down then back up again around 3am for a wee pray, chopping wood by moonlight and have a literal roll in the hay.
Some weirdos even visited the neighbours, before heading back to the sack for sleep number two.
In the Industrial Revolution, gas-lit street lamps, then later the electric bulb, meant workdays got massive – 12 hours.
That’s when we transitioned into the sleep patterns we know today: one big chunk, so we could work that 40-plus-hour week – about then, our attitudes to sleep began to change.
Too much sleep is seen as a character flaw – for the weak, lazy or maybe teenagers. Modern society much prefers insomniac workaholics.