The Myth of the Eight-Hour Sleep

Sunday, February 26, 2012 by admin

As endurance athletes, we all place a premium on the amount of sleep we get. Barring a good night’s sleep, we at least emphasize rest and recovery periods.

This article from BBC News reveals some interesting research that could makes us all rethink not only how much sleep we need, but the way we sleep all together.

Read the article and then share your thoughts. Do your sleeping patterns align with the evidence stated in the article? Do you experience a first sleep and second sleep?

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists.

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

Read the full article online at BBC News.


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