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Are We All Sleeping Wrong?

March 11, 2015


Are We All Sleeping Wrong?

Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night is a good idea right? Right?! People speak about the need for getting enough sleep every night so often that it is almost a given, but what if there is a fundamental flaw in how we sleep?

We’re not suggesting that you shouldn’t be striving to get these eight hours of beauty sleep, but rather that evidence is suggesting that trying to get eight hours of shut eye in a single go is misguided. Instead, we should aim to split the eight hours into two four hour chunks. In fact there is plenty of historical evidence that suggests that getting eight hours of sleep in a row is a modern invention and not something that our ancestors would have tried to get. Traditionally people would aim at getting eight hours of sleep within a twelve hour window. During this twelve hour window people would sleep for about three to four hours, then be awake for another three to four, followed by a final period of sleep lasting another three to fours of sleep.

So what did people do between these two periods of sleep? More than likely they would have carried on with their lives - reading, writing, and even visiting neighbours. There is even evidence from the 15th century of special prayers that would be made between sleeps.

While there is evidence that as people in societies, and especially the upper classes, became busier and more business orientated, started changing their sleep patterns, it was the invention of the electric light and the introduction of lighting of cities that really spelled the end of the split sleep patterns. By increasing the amount of light during the night, societies were able to extend their business and social hours putting more pressure in people to skimp on sleep.

Nowadays we have become so adapted to a single sleep at night that it would take a while to get used to split sleeping patterns. A compromise can be to take power naps during the day. These naps will revitalize you, give you more energy and help you to focus better during the day.

What do you think? Could you imagine splitting your night’s sleep into two?


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