To sleep, perchance to … wake up, potter about a bit, and then go back to sleep?
“Until the close of the early modern era, Western Europeans on most evenings experienced two major intervals of sleep bridged by up to an hour or more [sic] of quiet wakefulness.”
The phases of sleep – the first and second – lasted roughly an equal length of time. The intervening period of wakefulness was called the watch or watching. During this hour people got up to all sorts of things – prayer, some study, a tipple or two, a bit of slap-and-tickle, or even a spot of burglary (p.305 ff.).
Ekirch cites a Tudor example: the English physician, Andrew Boorde (c.1490 – 1549), mentions the first sleep in a chapter dedicated to sleeping in his, A compendyous regyment or a dyetary of helth (1542/47, p.247): Continue reading