When did sleeping become so problematic? How long to sleep, sleep hygiene, effect of lack of sleep on our physical and mental health? One in three people have problems sleeping: either trouble falling asleep, or waking up during the night and not able to go back to sleep.

Did you know that before the 18th century, the prevailing view was that a night’s sleep was divided into two stages of sleep? The first stage beginning two hours after dusk and lasting for four hours, followed by a period of waking of one to two hours, and then a second stage for another four hours.  During the waking period people were quite busy. They often got up to go to the toilet, or smoked tobacco or even visited neighbours.  Most people though stayed in bed, chatted or had sex!  But by the 19th century the accepted norm was to sleep a solid eight hours.  Now if we waken up we can panic and get worried that we won’t go back to sleep.

But what about thinking that waking-up might be good for you?  Maybe the middle of the night is a time to allow thoughts about ourselves and our lives that we normally hide from ourselves during the day to come to the fore?  Here is a really really interesting video on YouTube from  The School of Life –  It offers suggestions on how to make use of this waking period and how night-time waking can be an opportunity for self-knowledge.  Enjoy!