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Do you need 8 hours of consecutive sleep

You know that sleep is vital to your physical and mental health. It can be hard to measure your sleep patterns against those of the people around you. On average, adults should optimally receive between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but those needs vary individually. For example, some people feel best with eight consecutive hours of sleep, while others do well with six to seven hours at night and daytime napping. Some people feel okay when their sleep schedule changes, while others feel very affected by a new schedule or even one night of insufficient sleep.

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The Eight-Hour Sleep Session Is Not What You Need

Around a third of the population have trouble sleeping, including difficulties maintaining sleep throughout the night. While nighttime awakenings are distressing for most sufferers, there is some evidence from our recent past that suggests this period of wakefulness occurring between two separate sleep periods was the norm. Throughout history, there have been numerous accounts of segmented sleep, from medical texts, to court records and diaries, and even in African and South American tribes, with a common reference to "first" and "second" sleep.

Anthropologists have found evidence that during preindustrial Europe, bi-modal sleeping was considered the norm. Sleep onset was determined not by a set bedtime, but by whether there were things to do. Historian A. Roger Ekirch's book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past describes how households at this time retired a couple of hours after dusk, woke a few hours later for one to two hours, and then had a second sleep until dawn.

During this waking period, people would relax, ponder their dreams, or have sex. Some would engage in activities like sewing, chopping wood, or reading, relying on the light of the moon or oil lamps. Ekirch found references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th century.

This is thought to have started in the upper classes in Northern Europe and filtered down to the rest of Western society over the next years. Interestingly, the appearance of sleep maintenance insomnia in the literature in the late 19th century coincides with the period where accounts of split sleep start to disappear. Thus, modern society may place unnecessary pressure on individuals that they must obtain a night of continuous consolidated sleep every night, adding to the anxiety about sleep and perpetuating the problem.

Less dramatic forms of bi-phasic sleep are evident in today's society, for example in cultures that take an afternoon siesta. Our body clock lends itself to such a schedule, having a reduction in alertness in the early afternoon the so-called 'post-lunch dip'. In the early s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted a laboratory experiment in which he exposed a group of people to a short photoperiod — that is, they were left in darkness for 14 hours every day instead of the typical 8 hours — for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate, but by the fourth week, a distinct two-phase sleep pattern emerged. They slept first for 4 hours, then woke for 1 to 3 hours before falling into a second 4-hour sleep.

This finding suggests bi-phasic sleep is a natural process with a biological basis. It is generally thought a continuous 7 to 9-hour unbroken sleep is probably best for feeling refreshed. To successfully maintain a split sleep schedule, you have to get the timing right — that is, commencing sleep when there is a strong drive for sleep, and during a low circadian point, in order to fall asleep quickly and maintain sleep.

Some of the key advantages of a split sleep schedule include the flexibility it allows with work and family time where this flexibility is afforded.

Some individuals in modern society have adopted this type of schedule as it provides two periods of increased activity, creativity, and alertness across the day, rather than having a long wake period where sleepiness builds up across the day and productivity wanes. In support of this, there is growing evidence suggesting naps can have important benefits for memory and learning, increasing our alertness and improving mood states.

Some believe sleep disorders, like sleep maintenance insomnia, are rooted in the body's natural preference for split sleep. Therefore, split sleep schedules may be a more natural rhythm for some people. Split sleep schedules have recently begun to emerge as a potential alternative to continuous night shift work. Working at night has the combined problems of prolonged wakefulness often working 8 to hour shifts and circadian misalignment working at a time of night when you would normally be asleep.

Shift workers frequently complain of fatigue and reduced productivity at work, and they are at increased risk for chronic disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes , and heart disease. Some industries have employed schedules with shorter but more frequent sleep opportunities, on the premise that the drive for sleep will be less with reduced time.

Split-shift schedules that maintain adequate sleep time per 24 hours may be beneficial for sleep, performance, and safety.

A number of recent studies have found split sleep provides comparable benefits for performance to one big sleep, if the total sleep time per 24 hours was maintained at around 7 to 8 hours total sleep time per 24 hours. However, as might be expected, performance and safety can still be impaired if wake up and start work times are in the early hours of the morning. And we don't know if these schedules afford any benefits for health and reduce the risk for chronic disease.

While the challenges of night shift work cannot be eliminated, the advantage of some split shift schedules is that all workers get at least some opportunity to sleep at night and do not have to sustain alertness for longer than 6 to 8 hours.

Although we aspire to have consolidated sleep, this may not suit everyone's body clock or work schedule. It might, in fact, be a throwback to a bi-model sleep pattern from our pre-industrial ancestors, and could perhaps work well in a modern industrial setting. A version of this story was first published in June Read the original article.

Humans Used to Sleep in Two Shifts, And Maybe We Should Do It Again

Around a third of the population have trouble sleeping, including difficulties maintaining sleep throughout the night. While nighttime awakenings are distressing for most sufferers, there is some evidence from our recent past that suggests this period of wakefulness occurring between two separate sleep periods was the norm. Throughout history, there have been numerous accounts of segmented sleep, from medical texts, to court records and diaries, and even in African and South American tribes, with a common reference to "first" and "second" sleep. Anthropologists have found evidence that during preindustrial Europe, bi-modal sleeping was considered the norm. Sleep onset was determined not by a set bedtime, but by whether there were things to do.

Medical evidence suggests that for optimum health and function, the average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Although each hour of lost slumber goes into the health debit column, we don't get any monthly reminders that we've fallen in arrears.

The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. This article was published more than 8 years ago. Some information in it may no longer be current. Morning came a bit earlier this Monday, thanks to Daylight Savings Time.

Repaying your sleep debt

People who can get by on four hours of sleep sometimes brag about their strength and endurance. But recent scientific studies show that a lack of sleep causes many significant changes in the body and increases your risk for serious health concerns such as obesity, disease, and even early death. Sleep is an important function for many reasons. When you sleep, your brain signals your body to release hormones and compounds that help:. In fact, consistently sleeping more than six to eight hours a night can negatively impact your health. Read on to learn why seven to eight hours of sleep a night is ideal. Researchers in the United Kingdom and Italy analyzed data from 16 separate studies conducted over 25 years, covering more than 1. They published their findings in a article.

Do we really need eight solid hours of sleep at night?

There is some evidence to suggest that those who consistently restrict their sleep to less than six hours may have increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. The biggest health risk of sleep deprivation comes from accidents, especially falling asleep while driving. Sleep need varies depending on the individual and can be anywhere from 12 hours in long-sleeping children, to six hours in short-sleeping healthy older adults. But despite the prevailing belief , normal sleep is not a long, deep valley of unconsciousness. The sleep period is made up of minute cycles.

Sleep is fundamental to good physical and mental health.

A lone message sat in my inbox last night as I checked my phone before bed. I usually try to avoid email at night, but the subject had me hooked instantly since I'm fairly sure I'm never wrong. I assumed the triple exclamation was meant to send a message of urgency that one or even two exclamation points could not adequately convey. The email was from an unfamiliar sender.

Stop Trying to Get Eight Hours of Sleep

A little over 30 days ago I started a radical new sleep experiment which I wrote about here. Basically, I started sleeping for less than 4 hours per night with three minute naps taken throughout the day. The first week was rough. To say I was sleep deprived would be an understatement.

As anyone who has lay awake at night contemplating the complexities of the universe can attest, sleep is a slippery beast. That a nip of whiskey before bed helps you sleep better. Even that eating cheese before snoozing causes nightmares. Watch his talk on deep sleep here. All that with 8. Daniel Gartenberg: Every organism on the planet sleeps in some fashion, to some degree—even the basic fruit fly.

Is It Really Necessary to Get 8 Consecutive Hours of Sleep?

The Claim: Healthy adults need eight hours of sleep each night, preferably uninterrupted, and children need a lot more. That kept factory owners from demanding 14 hours of work, but it had no scientific basis. But that research has problems. Maybe disorders cause poor sleep, rather than vice versa. Or maybe a third factor causes both poor sleep and its associated disorders. For one thing, the wake-up call might come during the deepest part of your sleep cycle. Republish this article.

Feb 22, - Sleeping in one eight-hour chunk is a very recent phenomenon, and lying awake at public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists. but "after the first sleep", when "they have more enjoyment" and "do it better". 8 Daniel Pearl: Parents of murdered journalist launch appeal in.

You know you should be getting hours of sleep every day -- but who says it has to happen during one marathon snoozing session? David K. Randall, author of Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep , points to a growing body of evidence suggesting that getting enough "deep" sleep during the course of the day -- rather than in one eight-hour chunk -- might be just as beneficial from a performance point of view. For example, taking a "power nap" at work if it's OK with your boss!

Humans Used to Sleep in Two Shifts, And Maybe We Should Do It Again

Segmented sleep was popular with our ancestors, but it may not be healthy for most people today. Find out just how long you should be staying asleep. Is worry about lack of sleep keeping you up at night?

If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works. Sleep is a vital component of human health, and the amount of sleep a person needs changes with their age.

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