Historical and Cultural Perspectives of Sleep

Sleep, or at least a daily period of rest, has likely been part of life since the beginning of evolutionary time.

In humans, sleep patterns have changed over the centuries, even if our need for sleep has not. At various periods throughout history, people have gone to great lengths to make sleep more comfortable and safer, or to incorporate sleep into their lives to a greater or lesser extent. Many of our ideas about sleep have varied from culture to culture as well as in response to the growth of scientific understanding.

This timeline traces the path of our approach to and understanding of sleep throughout human history.