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The Myth of the Eight Hour Sleep

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  • The Myth of the Eight Hour Sleep

    Do you sleep all through the night? Do you need to? This very interesting article points to research indicating historically it was commonly accepted that two 4 hour periods of sleep interspersed with a two hour wake period was the norm. This seems to be the case for me. How about you?

    BBC News - The myth of the eight-hour sleep
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  • #2
    Yes, this stuff is very interesting. I have read At Day's Close: Night in Times Past. Mark has blogged on this topic too.

    I do try to sleep through the night. Being awake in the middle of the night doesn't appeal to me.
    Ancestral Health Info - My blog about Primal and the general ancestral health movement. Site just remodeled using HTML5/CSS3 instead of Wordpress.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Hedonist2 View Post
      Yes, this stuff is very interesting. I have read At Day's Close: Night in Times Past. Mark has blogged on this topic too.

      I do try to sleep through the night. Being awake in the middle of the night doesn't appeal to me.
      It is interesting to note that I used to sleep through the night before I went Paleo but now I find myself waking up after about 4 hours wide awake and energetic. I usually read or do some work until I get sleepy again and then go back into a deep sleep until morning. Based on the article it would seem this was considered a normal pattern historically.
      Last edited by canuck416; 04-07-2013, 04:37 PM.
      Recent Blog: http://www.peakperformanceradio.net/...y-john-saville

      https://www.facebook.com/PaleoJourne...?ref=bookmarks

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      • #4
        I've seen more about this type of sleep pattern lately, never tried it myself though. I'm a solid 8 hour a night type, more if I can. Getting up in the middle of my sleep doesn't hold much appeal for me, I will even try to ignore signals from my bladder in a vain attempt to stay in bed- the bladder always wins.

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        • #5
          Mark talks about it in his latest book and it does make a little sense considering sleep cycles. Mark talks about people waking in the middle of the night to socialize with friends, family, neighbors, etc. which would be pretty odd to see in this day and age.

          I generally like waking at least once at night so I can look at the clock and appreciate how much longer I have to sleep. And then I also have young kids (part time) so I'm generally woken up anyways at night for some reason or another anyways.

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          • #6
            Lately I have been having one night of good sleep followed by a restless night when I wake up a couple of times. I suffered many years of sleep deprivation (before I lost weight or was enlightened by a primal diet) from arthritis pain. Now whenever I sleep well I consider it a gift. It makes a lot of sense to me that Grok wouldn't get 8 hours of sleep every night anymore than he would eat 3 meals a day on a schedule. Sleep when tired. Eat when hungry.

            PS No more arthritis pain.

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            • #7
              It really makes no sense, evolutionarily speaking. It might have just been a fad in the 15-16th century? I also think it is popular in low carb circles because many people eating low carb have trouble sleeping and get adrenalin spikes in the early morning around 2-4am. Then they grasp at straws for an explanation. When you actually sleep well and deep you should be able to sleep 8-10 hours straight with no wake ups and no urge to urinate.

              If you are getting racing heart, night sweats, multiple urges to urinate, waking in the night and being wide awake, these are all signs that your stress hormones are in overdrive.

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              • #8
                It does seem to be associated with a certain time and place.

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                • #9
                  Actually, I think Elizabeth Marshall Thomas talks about the pattern in her book about the Bushmen (now Sand), The Old Way. When there is danger around, someone always needs to keep watch, and make sure the fire doesn't go out.
                  Ancestral Health Info - My blog about Primal and the general ancestral health movement. Site just remodeled using HTML5/CSS3 instead of Wordpress.

                  My MDA Friday success story - Stubborn Senior's Testimonial

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                  • #10
                    I wake in the night to go to the toilet! (Probably because I drink water before bed?) And usually when I wake (which is generally more than once) I'll have some more water. So it's not surprising I need to wee . However, I can't really see a benefit to getting up in the middle of the night to stay awake for a couple of hours. For starters, it's generally dark then (duh). Of course, we have electric lights now, but back in the day before electric light... I would think it would be kind of a challenge!! Maybe it's a good idea in a cold climate to check that the fire's still burning or something but that's a 5 minute job!

                    It seems to me that the "first sleep and second sleep" was a trend that started and ended a few hundred years ago. I doubt it would have been as prevalent in country areas (where people weren't in perpetually lit cities).

                    Also, it suggests people going to bed a couple of hours after dusk for the first sleep, which would be quite early in winter... I mean, if you're going to sleep at 6pm then I think it's probably natural that you're not going to sleep the whole night through!
                    Last edited by Iron Fireling; 04-07-2013, 09:12 PM.

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                    • #11
                      I prefer 8-9 hours of sleep a night ideally. Usually on weeknights I get 7-8 and weekends I sleep an extra hour sometimes and get 9-10. I've been like this my entire life and spending the better part of the last 14 months in ketosis hasn't changed that. I cannot ever remember waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep. Even having to get up to use the bathroom annoys the heck out of me!! IDK, I guess I'm a sleeper!

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                      • #12
                        I usually get four hours of sleep a day on average, if I'm lucky.

                        I wish I was kidding about that. :/
                        Dark chocolate and coffee, running through my veins...

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                        (Date is New Zealand Time UTC+ 12hours)

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                        • #13
                          Since adopting primal I now sleep all night and this makes me very happy.

                          I had thought my broken sleep was due to years of looking after babies followed by deterioration in bladder ability to last all night and then to start of menopause. But now it's fixed. As a result I am in a much better frame of mind every day.

                          This is one of my best benefits from this lifestyle (mainly the eating, I was already exercising but the sleep didn't fall into place properly until I changed my diet too).
                          Annie Ups the Ante
                          http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread117711.html

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