A good night’s sleep is essential for our overall health, since it brings mind and body regeneration. Nevertheless, health issues like sleep apnea and insomnia, as well as other sleep disorders often interrupt it and make it difficult to drift into a sound sleep.
However, newest research found that sleep may not be an all-night thing at all. Namely, Virginia Tech historian, called Roger Ekirch introduced the theory of ‘segmented sleep’ after 16 years of researching it.
He found significant evidence which showed that earlier generations had a first sleep just after dusk, followed by an hour or two of being awake, time often spent in a relaxed state of prayer or meditation. Then they went back to bed for a second sleep that lasted until the next morning.
he time between the two sleeps was usually used for praying, and many people considered it as the most relaxing periods. The reason for this is because the middle period between the two sleeps is around midnight, and in this period the brain releases prolactin which is a hormone that stimulates the feeling of relaxation.
Many Sleeping issues May Have Roots In The Human Body’s Natural Preference For Segmented Sleep
Ekirch states that many sleeping issues that are experienced today have roots deep in our body’s natural affinity for segmented sleep. According to his belief, the main reason why many people around the world today are suffering from a condition known as “sleep maintenance insomnia” where the people are waking up in the middle of the night and have problems to fall asleep again, is our historical sleeping pattern. This condition was firstly recorded at the end of the 19th century, in the period when the segmented sleep started to fade away from the people’s life.
“For most of evolution we slept a certain way. Waking up through the night is part of usual human physiology. The concept that we should sleep in a consolidated block could be harmful, he notes, if it makes individuals who wake up in the middle of the night nervous, as this nervousness can itself limit sleep and is likely to escape into waking life too.” – Psychologist Greg Jacobs.
Russell Foster, a professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford, also maintains that the reason why many people wake up at night is just an ancestral throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern.
Still, many doctors can’t accept that the uninterrupted 8-hour sleep may be unnatural to humans despite the fact that one in three health issues which doctors deal with are directly or indirectly caused by sleep. This aspect, however, has been overlooked by traditional medicine. There are only few centers where sleep is studied.
Our natural biorhythms are governed by exposure to light and darkness, which also dates back to our ancestors who scheduled their day around the rise and setting of the sun. The humans waked up together with the sun, and fell asleep with the sun, at the end of the day.