Fretting about waking up at night? Turns out that sleeping straight through is quite unnatural.
How to sleep
Sleep is important. If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, you’ll agree. Waking up at night sends us into a panic about not being able to dose off again and fulfill the 8 hour requirement.
How we’re designed to sleep
It turns out that we sleep very differently to our ancestors. Historian Roger Ekirch, has discovered that we are biologically designed to sleep in two shifts, and not for one solid block.
How our ancestors slept
Up until 150 years ago, people would fall asleep shortly after dusk. This was called the first or dead sleep. They would then get up for a few hours and tend the house, pray or visit friends. Doctors even recommended this “watch” period for conception. The remainder of the 8 hours, the second sleep, was taken in the hours before dawn.
Why this changed
With the invention of the light bulb, and artificial light being more accessible, we’ve started staying up way beyond our bedtime. To get enough sleep, we force ourselves to sleep through.
Don’t fret about disturbed sleep
A major contributor to insomnia is worrying about not sleeping. The best thing to do if you aren’t able to fall asleep again is not to fret. It’s actually quite natural to wake up. Use the time for quiet activities until you feel sleepy again.
“At Day’s Close” by Roger Ekirch
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