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The myth of the eight-hour sleep

Bob

Senior Member
Messages
16,455
Location
England (south coast)
Here's an interesting BBC article about the history of sleeping patterns...

The myth of the eight-hour sleep
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783

It turns out that we haven't always slept for eight(ish) hours in a row, but we used to have a split night, with a 'first sleep' for four hours, then a two-hour chilled-out waking period, and then a 'second sleep' for another four hours.

I've always had unusual sleeping patterns, and I've always enjoyed waking up in the middle of the night, or going to bed very late, so it's nice to read that it's perfectly 'normal'!

And I've always thought that the Spanish have a great system where they have late sociable nights, and then a siesta during the day to make up for it.

I'm now wondering if a split sleeping pattern would help with the ME, but I'm not sure if it would... I think it would just make the night-time too long.
 

Calathea

Senior Member
Messages
1,261
Biphasic sleep works for some people and not others. Try it by all means. I sometimes take siestas, but I never end up in a regular pattern with them, and it can tend to mess up my night's sleep. Bear in mind that you need to be careful about sleep gates if you're going to take part of your sleep at different times. These usually occur at three-hourly intervals, e.g. I may get tired at 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, 12am. If it's 3pm and I'm very tired, I may take a nap. Sometimes at 6pm, but it's not the best time of day for me. At 9pm, I just push through it and know that the sleepiness won't last for that long, because falling asleep then just messes up my night's sleep, for instance resulting in me being awake at 4 am. 12 am is my usual bedtime.
 

Tristen

Senior Member
Messages
638
Location
Northern Ca. USA
Here's an interesting BBC article about the history of sleeping patterns...

The myth of the eight-hour sleep
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783

It turns out that we haven't always slept for eight(ish) hours in a row, but we used to have a split night, with a 'first sleep' for four hours, then a two-hour chilled-out waking period, and then a 'second sleep' for another four hours.

I've always had unusual sleeping patterns, and I've always enjoyed waking up in the middle of the night, or going to bed very late, so it's nice to read that it's perfectly 'normal'!

And I've always thought that the Spanish have a great system where they have late sociable nights, and then a siesta during the day to make up for it.I'm now wondering if a split sleeping pattern would help with the ME, but I'm not sure if it would... I think it would just make the night-time too long.



Me too, always done the afternoon siesta if not working. Has always seemed my natural rythum. My siesta's are just power naps (~20 minutes), but they are refreshing. These days, 6 hours sleep a night is max, but that's a huge improvement over the early years.
 

heapsreal

iherb 10% discount code OPA989,
Messages
10,076
Location
australia (brisbane)
Interesting about sleeping in 4 hour stints, i just cant seem to sleep that second 4 hour stint. I have also lost that ability to nap during the day, that 10-20min nap would help me alot but i seem unable to these days. I would definately function better on more seep if i could get it.

cheers!!!
 

Calathea

Senior Member
Messages
1,261
I've only just read the original article. One big point they don't discuss enough is darkness. They talk about the advent of artificial lighting, but they don't talk about how light suppresses melatonin and how this has a huge impact on sleep patterns. People who get up in the middle of the light almost invariably turn on the light, unless they are a) practising darkness therapy and avoiding blue light at night; b) blind; c) staying in the dark to have sex. Turning the light on at night will suppress your melatonin production and make you pretty wakeful, especially if you use a computer or TV as they emit lots of blue light.

14 hours of pure darkness is a huge amount, by the way, and the research was probably on far more than just sleep shifts. It sounds like the research that was done on people with bipolar disorder. The researchers commented that it's well-nigh impossible to live in pure darkness (rather than a mix of pure darkness and virtual darkness), that patient compliance would be a serious problem. Also if the research is what I'm thinking of, then the patient group all had bipolar disorder, which affects circadian rhythms, and thus would not be representative of healthy people under those conditions.

Another factor which occurs to me is increasing urbanisation. If you're working outdoors, you have to maximise daylight hours. If you're working indoors, once you get artificial light you can work at any time you choose, and we've ended up with a standard day which runs rather late compared to daylight hours.

Then, of course, there's the fact that in the Middle Ages, about a huge proportion of the population (I think it's a third but I'm having trouble finding stats) was in holy orders, and thus had to get up in the middle of the night for prayers. Again, this is a vaguely-remembered stat so I'm not sure if it was for Europe or just Britain. Come to that, I don't know how much of the world is being considered in this article.
 

mellster

Marco
Messages
805
Location
San Francisco
The siesta used to make my day since I was a school boy. Also, I believe you sleep deepest if you sleep in 4 hour stints, after 4 hours your sleep becomes much lighter.
 

Calathea

Senior Member
Messages
1,261
That's just making me giggle for the wrong reasons - you know that a lot of "siestas" are code for "going home and having some fun in bed of the livelier variety"?

Incidentally, teenagers tend to run on a different (i.e. later) sleep schedule, it's a biological thing. I slept in a biphasic pattern in my teens. I'd get up early, 6 or so, go to school, come home at about 4.30, sleep for a few hours, and then stay up until late. It wasn't until the other year that I learned that this was relatively normal for teenagers.
 

Firestormm

Senior Member
Messages
5,055
Location
Cornwall England
I've often wondered too if living in a country known for it's socially accepted/permitted siesta's would be more conducive to ME patients - those who are able to work in some capacity. Such a thing could help with pacing I would think.

I did spend some time in Spain (my parent's lived there for a number of years) and it was an easy and beneficial routine to slip into I thought at the time.

My normal sleep pattern now at night seems to run in two hour phases. If I'm lucky I get two hours asleep and am then awake or semi-conscious for the next two. It's weird. But it's almost always (without medication) two hours.

Isn't this something to do with our circadian sleep cycle or something? Though that might be one and a half hours if memory serves....?
 

heapsreal

iherb 10% discount code OPA989,
Messages
10,076
Location
australia (brisbane)
last night i fell asleep around 10-1030pm and have woken at 330am, so 5 hours is average amount of sleep for me but not enough. If i dont have to work and bum around the house im ok and feel headachy/fogged by the end of the day but if i have to work like today, i will be buggered. Sometimes this go's on for a few days and then i have a night where i can sleep 7-8hours, maybe. But fatigue keeps building while im only getting those 5 hour sleeps. If i get into a bad cycle where im sleeping less then 5 hours then i take something extra strong(seroquel) to knock me out, but this only works when used occassionally. I think if i could nap for 10-20min during the day on those days i get 5hrs sleep then i would feel alot better, but that ability to nap is gone mostly. Sometimes the more tired i feel the harder it is to sleep??

cheers!!!
 

mellster

Marco
Messages
805
Location
San Francisco
Hehe, and even that would be healthier than sitting in the office our munching down a big lunch. Studies have shown that if men engage in early-day (as opposed to night -time) bed-sport their testosterone levels increase. Plus, it's always good exercise ;) We were not meant to be 8 hour/day office slaves.

That's just making me giggle for the wrong reasons - you know that a lot of "siestas" are code for "going home and having some fun in bed of the livelier variety"?

Incidentally, teenagers tend to run on a different (i.e. later) sleep schedule, it's a biological thing. I slept in a biphasic pattern in my teens. I'd get up early, 6 or so, go to school, come home at about 4.30, sleep for a few hours, and then stay up until late. It wasn't until the other year that I learned that this was relatively normal for teenagers.
 

Calathea

Senior Member
Messages
1,261
My normal sleep pattern now at night seems to run in two hour phases. If I'm lucky I get two hours asleep and am then awake or semi-conscious for the next two. It's weird. But it's almost always (without medication) two hours.

Isn't this something to do with our circadian sleep cycle or something? Though that might be one and a half hours if memory serves....?

90 minutes is what I've heard, but maybe our sleep cycle length is off? Our entire sleep is thoroughly buggered, after all. Is there any solid research on sleep studies in folks with ME?
 

Sallysblooms

P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!
Messages
1,768
Location
Southern USA
Neither, I can just sleep now. For a long time I couldn't until my CFS got better and my hormones were balanced. Now I have lovely sleep. That is another reason I feel so much better. Restorative sleep.
 

Crux

Senior Member
Messages
1,441
Location
USA
Hi Y'all;

I've been a chronic insomniac since early childhood, with a few breaks. I used to be able to function, or thought so. Now, it has become insufferable, and perpetuates the fatigue.

The methylation protocol, specifically Mb12, moved me from averaging 3-5 hrs. sleep, to 5-6 hrs. sleep. Adding potassium to the mix now gets me to 7hrs. sleep, with a brief rise for a wee.
 

Gavman

Senior Member
Messages
316
Location
Sydney
Some people go really well on bugger all sleep. Im not one of them. Sometimes i sleep for 12 hours and my body loves me for it. I think the important part of sleep is to get into the Rapid Eye Movement as the body is quite relaxed and is processing. Same thing happens when i do hypnosis on people, when they are integrating a treatment, their eyes move around behind their eyelids. I think the deep REM starts about 3 hours into sleep. Ergo why naps might relax but arent as important as straight sleep.

Also the release of certain neurotransmitters, (norepinephrine, serotonin and histamine), is completely shut down during Rapid Eye Movement sleep.