Another great piece on Brainpickings.org: Thomas Edison, Power-Napper: The Great Inventor on Sleep and Success | Brain Pickings.
Fascinating how Edison approached sleep and napping. Several secret nap cots? Forty winks under a shady tree? It sounds absolutely heavenly. How, when and why did we start dismissing the value of naps?
Read more about my (finished) sleep project here.
From the New York Times: Rethinking sleep by David K. Randall
Mr. Randall states that we only started believing in 8-solid-hours-sleep in Western society, and only after the industrial revolution. Perhaps midday naps were unpopular to factory owners? There are other unhealthy sleeping habits connected to the industrialized world: think of shift work and night jobs.
But even today, in many societies naps are a way of life. In Spain, although in decline, people take a siesta after lunch, the main meal of the day. In China and other Asian countries, taking a powernap at your desk makes you seem motivated and effective, not lazy.
Further in the article, texts from historical records like Shakespeare are cited as proof that daytime sleeping was once common.
A character in the “Canterbury Tales,” for instance, decides to go back to bed after her “firste sleep.” A doctor in England wrote that the time between the “first sleep” and the “second sleep” was the best time for study and reflection. Continue reading
Excerpts from the Wikipedia pages on sleep. Most interesting I find the information on the human biological clock, and the hormonal and bodily effects it has. Habit and behaviour are but a small part in this.