Imagine that you live in the XVIII century.

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It's only half past eight in the evening, you put on your night cap, extinguish the candles and fall asleep while smelling the wax that gently fills the air around your bed..

It takes a few hours. 2:30. You Wake up, take your coat and go to the neighbors because they are not sleeping either. Quietly reading, praying or even having sex. It is obvious that before the era of electricity two nights sleep was completely ubiquitous.

Then we slept twice a night, getting up for an hour or two for fun, and then going back to bed before dawn. References to this are found throughout the literature, court documents, personal papers and notes. The amazing thing is not that people slept twice, but that the concept was so ubiquitous. Sleep from two segments was the usual, accepted way to sleep.

How did people manage these extra hours? About as much as you can afford to assume.

Most remained in their beds and bedrooms, sometimes reading, and often used this time for prayer. Religious rituals included special prayers for the time between two dreams. Someone was Smoking, talking to the household or having sex. Some were more active and went to visit neighbors.

As we know, the practice eventually gradually disappeared. The changes came with the advent of street lighting and eventually electric interior lighting, as well as the popularity of coffee shops. Writer Craig Kozlowski develops the theory in his book "Evening Empire". With the spread of street lighting, night ceased to be the lot of criminals and the lower classes and became a time for work and socialization. Two dreams were eventually considered a waste of those hours.

Science seems to support what we find in history books. In a four-week study with 15 men living in limited daylight hours, something strange began to happen. After hours of sleep deprivation – the usual state of Affairs for most of us - the participants began to Wake up in the middle of the night: they had two dreams.

During the 12-hour period, participants first slept for four or five hours, then stayed awake for several hours, then slept again until the morning. In General, they slept no more than eight hours.

Russell Foster , a Professor of neuroscience at Oxford, points out that even with existing sleep patterns, waking up in the middle of the night is not always a cause for concern. "Many people Wake up at night and panic," he says. – I tell them that they are experiencing a recurrence of the bimodal model of sleep."

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