The myth of eight-hour sleep
We were told since a childhood that the sleep should be eight hours. The same thing was repeated by doctors and parents. There were not any alternative views: the eight hours answer was cut and dried. However, recent medical and historical researches provide more evidence that the eight-hour sleep is unnatural for the human body.
For example, an experiment of psychiatrist, Thomas Wehr in the 90s showed that if a person is placed in an isolated environment, then the time pattern of sleep is divided into two segments for four hours.
In 2001, a historian, Roger Ekirch published his results of 16-year research on the study of historical sources. He gathered more than 500 testimonies, which also indicate the segmentation of sleep in people of different tribes and nations, including the Ancient African nationalities, Ancient Greece and medieval instructions for the daily routine of the monks. As in the previous experiment, the historian came to the conclusion that there exist two periods of sleep: the first one starts in a few hours after sunset, and the second one comes after the first in a few hours. According to Ekirch, a period of night wakefulness is a natural human behavior at all times, and only since the late 17th century, this activity began to disappear with increasing urbanization and industrialization of society, and by the end of the 19th century, the testimonies of night wakefulness completely disappeared from the literary sources.
According to the researcher, the habit of double sleep became revived in the 1920s with the appearance of night life entertainment in the cities. Even though many people have adapted to the eight-hour sleep, it still remains unnatural for the human body.
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