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3 Century-Old Sleep Hacks Backed by Science

3 Century-Old Sleep Hacks Backed by Science

A lot of old-fashioned knowledge about sleep is pretty inaccurate, but some century-old sleep hacks might even work better than those of today. 

In fact, Aristotelian theories about sleep suggested sleep was the key to living a long life – and recent studies have found that a healthy amount of sleep does in fact help you live longer and destress.

So, get ready for some century-old sleep!

Two-shift sleep

Before the introduction of artificial light, and the regulated workday, people slept in two shifts. "First sleep" was after sunset, then people woke up in the middle of the night, ate, read, chatted — and then, went back to bed.  “Second sleep" lasted till daybreak. 

Modern science suggests it may be a healthier way to get your 40 winks than a single eight-hour stretch. If you're a night owl, don’t fight it – get out of bed, read a little, then go back to sleep, just like your ancestors did.


A physician's text from 5th century BC advises napping every afternoon during the summer to alleviate the effects of heat on the body, and modern studies show it’s actually good for you.

Power naps reduce the risk of heart issues and lower the need for blood pressure medications – and other experiments have shown increased cognitive benefits from regular power naps.

Almond milk before bed … and maybe Cookies too

Back in 1637, a doctor called Tobias Venner had a recipe for curing insomnia: "a good draught of soporiferous Almond milke." Venner's draught wasn't just almond milk — it was flavored with violets and rosewater, among other ingredients.

Warm dairy milk helps sleep because of its calming, nurturing associations, and Almond milk is recommended because it possesses the same amount of calcium in calcium-fortified versions as cow's milk, but isn't going to trigger lactose intolerance.


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