First sleep and second sleep

I keep waking up at five a.m. and deeply resenting it. I spent twenty years working in live theater and firmly believe that five a.m. is one of those times that you should only approach from one direction, by staying up all night. I mean, it’s before the sun is even over the horizon.

But I then I read about the idea of the First and Second sleep. Basically, this is the idea that until pretty recently, people slept in two shifts during the night. They’d sleep for about four hours, then get up for an hour or two, then sleep again. When I started running into it in my own research for stuff set during the Regency.

So I decided to try it. Now, when I wake up spontaneously, I just go ahead and get out of bed and putter around, instead of fighting to get back to sleep. The benefit?

This is how I spent my morning.

Plus the complete absence of guilt about taking a nap later.

So, how is your day starting?

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13 thoughts on “First sleep and second sleep”

  1. I didn’t even know about the “first and second sleep,” but I’ve naturally split my sleep in two since I was a teenager. After work (or after running errands/cleaning on my days off), I take a longish nap and then wake up again feeling like I slept all night. Probably there’s something wrong with me, but I’m not going to fight it because it feels like I get two days for every one 😉

  2. I’ve never heard of first and second sleep.

    I used to be more of a night owl and wake up late in the morning…but now I’ve gradually migrated to waking up at “oh dark am”. I do lapse on weekends.

    Doing all right today, myself.

  3. I’m envious of people who can take naps. I have one of those lovely sleep disorders that require medication in order to get any benefit from sleep, so if I don’t get rested during that 6-8 hour window, then I’m just out of luck for the day.

    I would be curious to hear how the first sleep/second sleep thing works out. The skeptic in me doubts that the results would actually be beneficial in the long-term, but I’m always open to being proven wrong. 🙂

  4.  Hmm, I don’t know. I completely understand NOT wanting to get up that early. I’ll state right now that my body does not want to wake up at any time like that. However, I would think that there’s only so much time in a day and getting up early allows one to get some things done earlier than later. But, again, that’s me talking at almost 9:30 in the morning (MST) and I’m fully awake.
        Naps are fantastic, and they can be granted to those who do get up early, I think. If one gets up early, one would know that they have that extra pocket or two in the day to take a nap, even if only for a few minutes.

  5. When I saw that subject line, the hobbit bit about “first and second breakfast” came to mind.

    But I suffer from this as well. If I wake up after, say, 3am, it’s almost impossible for me to fall back asleep. I’m better off getting up and doing things. If it’s a weekend, I’ll take a short nap in the afternoon (if I can get away with it).

  6. Have you  read the article in Newsweek Magazine (June 4 & 11, page 19)?  “SLEEP IN – Waking up early is making us fat.”  The suggestion is that humans are actually wired to rise late.  I heartily agree!

  7. For years I kept wondering why I would wake up at 2 in the morning and not fall back asleep until around 4. Then I read online about multi-phasic/bi-phasic sleeping. It makes sense when you think about it; animals sleep in phases, not in just one long chunk of time. But it allows us all to adhere to stricter “business” hours, which is better, natch, for businesses. 

    Now when it happens to me I usually write in my journal or just listen quietly to music until I start feeling sleepy again.

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