Skip to comments.The myth of the eight-hour sleep
Posted on 02/23/2012 5:17:34 PM PST by grundle
We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night - but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.
In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.
It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.
In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.
His book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern - in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.
Much like the experience of Wehr's subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.
During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.
Oh lord, let me go back to sleep.
I pretty much sleep like that.
It’s good to know it’s natural.
Why would this guy have to plunge people into darkness for 14 hours? Couldn’t he just interview a Swede in wintertime?
Interesting article. I worked night shifts for nearly 20 years, at the end of which time my whole internal clock was out of whack. I ended up sleeping in stages consisting of four hours’ sleep, three hours’ waking and another three hours’ sleep. My most productive time is the three hours between sleeps, although admittedly it takes me more than half an hour to get my equilibrium right following the first awakening.
I remember as a child, my head would hit the pillow after a rigorous day going full steam, and it seemed I’d wake to daylight 3 seconds later, fully rested.
I think that’s natural for small kids.
You a CPAP user? :) I saw this on cpaptalk.com earlier today....interesting read.
He tried that first. He sent his sister to interview a Swede in wintertime. But she got bitten by a moose.
This is my default sleep pattern, when I have time for it.
As I recall this experiment, he was wanting to see what sort of schedule people would keep, if they were free from any way of regulating their body clock. So, no clocks or sun or anything was allowed.
The people were free to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Whether it be watch tv, on vcr tapes, or play board games, or read.
They just weren’t free to keep track of anytime whatsoever.
Any correlation with the other primates, particularly the great apes?
Was there cheese involved?
8 hour sleep? What is that? Isn’t 4 the norm? (at least for me it is... out by 1, up by 5).
But last year I was house sitting a friends place and did have one night in which I sleep the entire 8 hours. Brother, did I ever feel great the next day. Must have been the wonderful bed I was using.
Oh, i'll just BET they did. divorces followed.
either that, or shots rang out.
Depends on how much I drank the night before. 8 hrs usually at a minimum.