Evidence continues to emerge, both scientific and historical, suggesting that the way in which the majority of us currently sleep may not actually be good for us.
In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a paper that included over 15 years of research. It revealed an overwhelming amount of historical evidence that humans used to in fact sleep in two different chunks. (1)
In 2005, he published a book titled “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past,” that included more than 500 references to a disjointed sleeping pattern. It included diaries, medical books, literature and more taken from various sources which include Homer’s Odyssey all the way to modern tribes in Nigeria and more.
“It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge.” –Ekrich (source)
What The Research Shows...
Ekirch’s research found that we didn’t always sleep for an average of 8 hours straight. Instead we would sleep in two shorter periods throughout the night. All sleep would occur within a 12 hour time frame that started with 3 or 4 hours of sleep, followed by being awake for 3 hours or so and then sleeping again until the morning.
There was also some research done in the early 1990’s by psychiatrist Thomas Wehr. He conducted an experiment where 14 people were put into complete darkness for 14 hours a day for an entire month. By the fourth week the participants were able to settle into a very distinct sleeping pattern. The pattern was the same as Ekirch suggested of how we were meant to sleep; the subjects slept for approximately 4 hours, woke for another few and then went back to sleep until morning. Continue reading...