Forget 8 Hours of Sleep: Try 4 Hours, Twice
History suggests it could be the 'natural' way
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 23, 2012 9:51 AM CST
Getting two sets of four-hour sleep may be better for you than one eight-hour shift.   (?Shooz)

(Newser) – Eight hours of sleep—doctor's orders, right? Perhaps not. A number of recent studies have pointed to a human tendency to sleep in two sessions of about four hours each, with an hour or two between, the BBC reports. A researcher in the 1990s put subjects in darkness 14 hours a day in a month-long study. Four weeks into the experiment, the subjects were regularly sleeping for four hours, waking for an hour or two, then sleeping four more hours.

It's not just a modern thing, it seems: A book published a few years ago finds some 500 references to such a sleeping pattern throughout history, in everything from fiction to diaries. During the waking session, people might read, smoke, or visit friends. Fifteenth-century prayer books even listed prayers specifically designed for the hours between sleep. But with improvements in lighting over the centuries, the idea of the two sessions faded; by 1920, it was gone. Still, "for most of evolution we slept a certain way," says a sleep psychologist," so waking up in the middle of the night shouldn't necessarily be worrying—it's "part of normal human physiology."

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Showing 3 of 14 comments
Feb 24, 2012 12:26 PM CST
I naturally sleep 8 hours in order to do 4 hours I would need an alarm, how is that natural?
Feb 24, 2012 11:33 AM CST
Great story!
Feb 24, 2012 12:25 AM CST
Thank God. Now when I do Pinterest at 4:30 AM, after waking at 4:15, I have noting to worry about. Or do I?