Interrupted Sleep Might Be the Best Kind


Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
From Slashdot:

The BBC reports that a growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that eight-hours of uninterrupted sleep may be unnatural as a wealth of historical evidence reveals that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks called first and second sleep. A book by historian Roger Ekirch, At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, 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. 'It's not just the number of references — it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,' says Ekirch. References to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century with improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses — which were sometimes open all night. Today most people seem to have adapted quite well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body's natural preference for segmented sleep which could be the root of a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where people wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. 'Our pattern of consolidated sleep has been a relatively recent development, another product of the industrial age, while segmented sleep was long the natural form of our slumber, having a provenance as old as humankind,' says Ekrich, adding that we may 'choose to emulate our ancestors, for whom the dead of night, rather than being a source of dread, often afforded a welcome refuge from the regimen of daily life.'
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Wes Bucey

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More likely, it has to do with age, whether or not there is a bed partner, and one other little thing I learned in Boy Scouts nearly 60 years ago - something called the "Indian Alarm Clock" which entailed drinking a lot of fluid before going to sleep, guaranteeing either early wake up or damp sleeping spot.:notme:


Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
I've always been a "two part" sleeper going back to childhood. It drove my mother nuts (long story there...). Many days I did (and still do) take 3 sleep periods a day, usually each is 2 to 3 hours. Five hours is a long sleep period to me and has been as far back as I can remember. On the other hand, if I'm busy I can, or used to be able to, easily go for 24+ hours before I really started getting tired. And I never have been able to sleep on an airplane or in a car, even on long flights to places in Asia or Africa (to cite the longest flights I've taken over the years). I have taken Valium in the past on a few long flights which "sorta" worked.
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