A Short History of Sleep: Now & Then

Posted in: Respect Your Sleep
By Naturepedic Team
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A Short History of Sleep: Now & Then

A Short History of Sleep: Now & Then

It’s always fun to sit back and look at how things have changed over the years, isn’t it? We get so caught up in the daily grind that we don’t usually make time to reflect on how things used to be.

Do you remember life before the internet?

Life before GPS?

Did you ever have to wait until 7pm to get your local news on TV?

Reminiscing can be fun, and it can be a reminder of how far we have come. We’re taking a stroll down memory lane to explore the history of sleep and see how far we have come when understanding sleep patterns, studying changes in sleep, and interesting sleep facts.

Fun Fact: Did you know that as recent as the 19th century, physicians believed that sleep was caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain? A lot of discoveries have been made in a relatively short time. Keep reading to find out more.

The 19th Century & Double Sleep

Then: In the 1800s, people normally engaged in double sleep, meaning they would break their sleep into two “blocks”—typically four hours per block with two-four hour breaks in between. It was considered a mark of slothfulness if a person experienced excessive sleep.

The double sleep was the standard sleep practice for thousands of years and is still widely considered to be the ‘natural’ way to sleep.

Now: When electricity became a household norm, double sleep was eventually phased out and replaced with the single sleep we still practice today. It is recommended that we get at least 8 hours of consecutive sleep per night.

Sleeping Arrangements

Then: In the Middle Ages, entire families often slept together in a giant bed. This was mostly done to conserve heat in the winter. As time went on, it became common for spouses to sleep in separate beds, while children typically slept in one room.

Now: Most couples sleep together in one bed, and most children have their own room.


Then: Humans have a long history of sleeping on a variety of surfaces and using a variety of materials to create their sleep space. From pea shucks and gold to feathers and silks, here is a brief timeline of the evolution of the mattress.

Now: Thanks to technology, sleep studies, and education, we have learned so much about what goes into a good night’s sleep—and we’ve applied this knowledge into designing our certified organic mattresses that are safer, healthier, and more comfortable.

Interested in starting a new chapter in your own sleep timeline? Click here to learn how to choose the best organic mattress for you.

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A Short History of Sleep: Now & Then

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