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Sleep 1 and Sleep 2 Artist: Stuccowork probably by Abbondio Stazio, Swiss (active Italy), Mossagno, near Lugano 1663?1745 Venice, Maker: and Carpoforo Mazzetti Tencalla, Swiss (active Italy), Bissone 1685?1743 Venice, Bedroom from the Sagredo Palace, ca. 1720 or later, Wood, stucco, marble, glass, H. 25 ft. 2 in. (767.1 cm), W. 18 ft. 2 in. (553.7 cm), D. 13 ft. 2 in. (401.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.1335.1a?d)

It's pretty easy to feel self-conscious about your sleep habits, especially because it can be so important to your health. Either you sleep too much, too little, or wake up too often. In fact, the typical eight hour uninterrupted sleep is what's really unnatural.

Your Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother's Sleep Habits

Until about 200 years ago, most people slept as they had for thousands of years. Since there was no bright source of artificial light, people went to sleep when it got dark.

They'd naturally wake up during the middle of the night for a few hours. Then they'd go back to bed for what was called the morning sleep.

Modern Pre-Historic Sleep

Researchers re-created conditions for pre-historic sleep in a lab. After a few days of going to bed around 8 p.m., subjects began to experience segmented sleep. They'd wake up around one or two, lie in bed quietly for a few hours, and then fall back asleep. Animals in the wild are known to do this as well.

Our world of artificial light and all-night supermarkets has changed the way we sleep. However, in pre-industrial cultures around the world people still sleep in short bursts instead of through the night.

If you're interested in learning more about sleep, click here to read about how a recent discovery that jellyfish sleep is changing some scientists' minds about why animals need sleep. You could also read about how your phone and your computer might be affecting your ability to fall asleep at night (for your first or second sleep).

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