The myth of the eight-hour sleep

We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night – but the BBC has reported that this actually could be good for you. In fact, growing body of evidence from both science, and more interestingly, from human history, suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural, forced upon us modern day humans due to social conditioning.

So if you’re an insomniac who struggles with the idea that you need solid slabs of sleep when the sun is down, fear not: you may actually be the healthy one. Everyone else has developed a kind of sleep disorder that we’ve learned to live with.

“For most of evolution we slept a certain way,” says sleep psychologist Gregg Jacobs. “Waking up during the night is part of normal human physiology.”

The idea that we must sleep in a consolidated block could be damaging, he says, if it makes people who wake up at night anxious, as this anxiety can itself prohibit sleeps and is likely to seep into waking life too.

“Many people wake up at night and panic,” observes Russell Foster, a professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford. “I tell them that what they are experiencing is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern.”

“Over 30% of the medical problems that doctors are faced with stem directly or indirectly from sleep. But sleep has been ignored in medical training and there are very few centres where sleep is studied”.

Jacobs suggests that the waking period between sleeps, when people were forced into periods of rest and relaxation, could have played – and still could play – an important part in the human capacity to regulate stress naturally.

In many historic accounts, Ekirch found that people used the time to meditate on their dreams.

“Today we spend less time doing those things,” says Dr Jacobs. “It’s not a coincidence that, in modern life, the number of people who report anxiety, stress, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse has gone up.”

Read the full story: BBC News – The myth of the eight-hour sleep.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Health, Medicine, Science, Technology

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

Subscribe to Intentious

Be notified by email whenever new pieces are posted by the blogging team tackling controversial current events or issues.

3 Comments on “The myth of the eight-hour sleep”

  1. April 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    Genuinely worthwhile write-up. Pay

  2. May 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    I have study not a single write-up on your blog. You are a large lad

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 5 Popular Myths about Sleep | What is psychology? - October 13, 2012

    […] The myth of the eight-hour sleep (intentious.com) […]

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: