Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Bible and Catholic Liturgical Prayer Shows 8 Hour Sleep Pattern Was Not Common

I guess like many people I have labored over a misconception on human beings history of sleep. I recall watching the Beverly Hillbillies and seeing a constant comedy theme was how the family was going to bed at some strange hour of like 7 p.m.

It was not till in recent years when I saw a History Channel show dealing with night in Colonial America that I learned what was I seeing in that comedy show was only telling half the story.

 People went to sleep early but they were not sleeping till the crock crowed . They got up after a few hours and did household chores , visited people at like 1 a.m. in the morning , and did farm work. Then they would sleep for a few more hours till morning.

Early  roads were often built so the light of the Milky Was helped people see their way. In fact during portions of the farm cycle ( planting and harvesting ) working during night time hours were critical. In many ways this very much contributed to the myths and popular folklore of scary creatures of the night we have seen through history. People were roaming around doing all sort of things when they heard unsettling things go bump in the night.

One reason we have trouble of conceiving this today is overwhelming interplay with artificial light. Even in rural areas security lights, and the lights from nearby towns seriously reduce how one can see with just moonlight and starlight. Further the ability to have artifical lighting in abundance no doubt changed the sleep pattern for other reasons.

In fact the talk of prayer times in the New Testament and in Catholic liturgical prayer should have given our modern minds a hint that the 8 hour or more sleep pattern was not the norm.

First Thoughts has a good post on all this at Rising at Midnight: Sleep Patterns and Daily Prayer

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