Did you notice the timestamp on this post? That’s right, I am indeed posting this at 3:36am. This Monday and next, I have 5am flights out of Newark Airport – requiring a 2:15am wakeup call to get me to the gate on time (and that’s pushing it). While this might have driven me crazy just a few weeks ago, today I’m actually feeling pretty good about it. Here’s why.
I recently read an article in BBC News called The Myth of the Eight Hour Sleep. Basically, back in the days before electricity, people use to sleep for four hours, wake up for one to two hours, and then sleep another four hours – reason being that there wasn’t much to do in the dark hours in the days before electricity. And when a study was conducted in the 1990s, participants who were put in a dark room for 14 hours every day for a month adapted a similar second sleep schedule – further cementing the evidence that the human body was bred for segmented sleep. Sleeping in one big eight hour block? Pshhhh… that’s for hibernating bears.
The article is incredibly interesting, and despite reading it several weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about it. Meanwhile, my body seems to be obsessed with the idea too – ever since reading it, I’ve woken up around 2am or 3am every night, indicating that my body seems to want me to start segmenting my sleep too. Unfortunately, when you don’t plan for segmented sleep, it’s hard to make it work, which is why some days I’ve woken up at 3am, stayed up till 4:30am, and then only been able to catch another 90 minutes of sleep until my 6am alarm. Not good!
But today, I am making it work. I went to bed at 9:15pm, giving me exactly 5 hours of sleep before my 2:15am alarm. Unlike the people in the 16th Century, I’m not spending my waking period reading, praying or having sex (three of the most popular activities for the waking period), but showering/getting dressed, taking a taxi to Newark Airport, going through security, and hanging out at the gate. But once I board my flight to Charlotte? Second sleep is ON.
What do you think – could you make “second sleep” work for you? And now that you’ve heard about this, let me know if your sleeping patterns change as your body begs for what the advent of electricity has taken away. Am I the only whose body apparently yearns for the days before electricity and indoor plumbing?