From Caves to Comfort: The Evolution of Sleep

The way we embrace our much-needed sleep today is a world apart from the practices of our ancient ancestors.

By Joe Castignani

Sleep, a vital part of the human experience, has undergone a remarkable evolution throughout history. The way we now embrace our much-needed slumber is a world apart from the practices of our ancient ancestors.

Let’s explore the history of my favorite subject!

First Stop: Ancient Sleep

Anciently, sleep patterns were deeply connected to nature's rhythms. Many early humans followed a “biphasic” sleep pattern, that is, they divided rest into two phases. The first sleep phase (also known as "dead sleep") occurred after sunset. It was followed by a period of wakefulness, and then a second sleep until sunrise.

Anthropologists believe this segmented pattern allowed for better safety in the dark of night and encouraged contact during the nighttime waking period. Biphasic sleep is still practiced in cultures throughout the world, most often recognized by an afternoon period of rest, or siesta.

Medieval Sleep: Evening Merriment

Medieval Europe brought big changes to sleep patterns. The introduction of candles and later oil lamps extended the hours of work and social interaction after sunset. Elaborate evening dances and feasts ensued. Although sleep was still often divided by a "watch" period often used for socializing and sex, it was becoming more consolidated into one long stretch of sleep. The idea of a full night's sleep was emerging!

The Industrial Revolution: Times are Changing

The Industrial Revolution revolutionized more than just the production of goods. Sleep patterns experienced a revolution, too. With factories running around the clock, workers’ sleep schedules were disrupted. Shift work and longer workdays required people to adapt to non-traditional sleep schedules.

Modern Sleep: New Challenges and Solutions

During the 20th century, electricity granted people the ability to stay awake late into the night, and the introduction of television filled those late-night hours with entertainment. Today, the widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and computers has exacerbated the disruption of sleep patterns. These devices, along with artificial lighting, emit blue light that suppresses the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it increasingly challenging to fall asleep.

Today, the line between day and night blurs. While technology has played a role in disrupting sleep patterns, it also provides solutions. Smart beds, sleep-tracking devices, meditation apps, and innovations including the MVMI Pillow are designed to optimize sleep and address these challenges.

What We Have Learned

Sleep patterns have evolved significantly over time, shaped by cultural, technological, and societal changes. While modern life offers convenience and comfort, it also presents new challenges to achieving restful sleep. The MVMI Pillow now holds a place in history as a part of the timeless pursuit for a good night’s sleep!

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Dream big, work hard, sleep ambitiously,

Joe Castignani