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Thread: Pre Industrial Sleep and The Watching Hour page

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    Pre Industrial Sleep and The Watching Hour

    I really enjoyed this article about natural sleep patterns before the electric light and the extensive use of the clock.

    Pre-industrial Slumber in the British Isles

    It helps to explain the sleep pattern known as the "Watching Hour" described in literature of the period. I have experienced this when on vacation and away from 'civilization' (for example while in Central America).

    It is a luxury to synch yourself up with the sunrise and the sunset, without concern for schedules. In our society it seems only babies and the retired can pull this off. Every one else answers the alarm clock and stays up well past sunset thanks to the electric light.

    Synching up with the sunrise and sunset results in a pattern of awakening refreshed in the middle of the night for an hour or two, then going back to sleep. I have read that the "Watching Hour" was used for meditation, quiet talk, lovemaking, and even sometimes socializing with the neighbors, according to contemporary accounts. It is now referred to as "segmented sleep" in some present-day medical articles.

    If you get a chance, try to experience your own "Watching Hour". It is a very peaceful experience.
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    I've always wondered why my elderly friends and relatives wake up in the middle of the night for a couple hours. Very interesting article. Thanks!

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    I love the way it feels to sleep with the sun cycle when camping, but I never had a watching hour experience, even after a full week. I suspect it's just something some people have, just like some people are more night people and some people are more morning people.

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    Thanks so much for posting this...starting a couple years ago, I started to pass out pretty early, wake up later for an hour or two, and go back to sleep. That "watching hour" is the most peaceful time of my day, but my early sleep schedule drives my night-owl husband crazy. I feel awful about it but really can't help myself. At least now I can show the poor guy that it's natural!

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    I've tried to go to bed with the sun but my upstairs neighbour is too loud.

    Also, I've found some nights I wake up and want to do things for a few hours...I wonder though if its something to do with moonlight?

    Also, if you wake up in then middle of the night do you use artificial lighting? And if so, wouldn't that mean that you are screwing up your bodies hormones

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushrat View Post
    Also, if you wake up in then middle of the night do you use artificial lighting? And if so, wouldn't that mean that you are screwing up your bodies hormones
    I just enjoy the peaceful hour in the middle of the night. No need to get out of bed, turn on a light, or do anything. Just be.

    No electric light or other modern stimulation after sunset is key to experiencing an early 'first sleep' followed by a watching hour then drifting off into 'second sleep'. It helps if you routinely get up early enough to be somewhat sleepy by sunset.

    (PS another good reason to kill your TV ...)
    Never eat anything bigger than your own head.

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