Alternatively you may find yourself more tired. Personally I like sleeping 8-9 hours a night. I find myself fairly alert a few minutes after I wake up and I can start my day. It certainly doesn't feel 'unnatural' to me.
I am also a big fan of sleeping when other people sleep so I can enjoy time with friends and family. Unusual sleep patterns typically mean missing out on some of this time.
Either way I have to agree with doing what works for you. I always made an attempt to sleep a full 8 hours and failed. I get by on 4-5 hours of sleep a night and feel fine!
I recall in the 2010 there were a bunch of athletes that all said the secret to their success - besides training hard - was getting 9 hours of sleep at night. IIRC both Sasha Cohen and Shaun White mentioned it.
I think I'd also read brain research that REM sleep (which tends to be back-loaded towards the end of the night) is when your brain converts experiences from that day from short-term memory into long-term skillsets. That'd be consistent with my experience that more mentally demanding tasks require more sleep, and the experience of those Olympic athletes, and that I don't really suffer a short-term penalty from lack of sleep, it's more a long-term problem.
Whether I want to depends on how much mental activity I've been doing; I'm far more likely to think "That was a nice dream, I don't wanna get out of bed yet" if I've got a thorny challenging problem in my head than if I'm like "Gotta get into work and start coding."
As for segmented sleep, I'm not sure I could ever do that. If I even nap for like 30-60 minutes after 7pm, the chances of me falling asleep by midnight are pretty much nil. I'd be screwed if I tried to sleep from 8-12 and then again at 2-3am.
Well, when you're awake you will get thirsty and drink if you overheat. If you're asleep you won't.
I didn't get out of bed when I woke up, but I found I was extremely lucid. As soon as I could use the time for problem solving, I stopped waking up :(
You suddenly begin to feel a sweet sense of pain. The feeling is just so beautiful that it feels amazing.
I've had that feeling quite a few number of times. And I will do anything to feel like that again.
You should take your own advice. Bi-Modal sleep has a lot more evidence than just that, and the article includes some from historians, which I guess you missed.
This sleep pattern is well accepted, and has been known for decades. Not sure why they are writing an article about it now, except maybe the author heard about it and decided it would make an interesting article.
By the way, I worked in sleep medicine, first as a medical tech, and then in technical support for the medical equipment. I never came across the idea that split sleep sessions was right or healthy, and never heard the sleep physicians or clinical specialists mention such a thing. It is far from "well accepted and known for decades", at least up until I left the industry in 2009 (though I spent less time with the specialists from about 2006).
Xurinos is presenting the correct scientific position; you are presenting the antithesis of science: "Yeah, you're wrong, everyone knows it and has always known it, I'm sure there's some research somewhere".
There is very little criticism of this, both modern studies and research of historical language and literature find the same thing.
Although in your defense, it's not widely known. (Most people never even think to ask, although once they do the evidence is compelling.)
ref 1 seems to be a series of excerpts of articles
ref 2 is a literature review of historical acounts
neither ref 1 nor 2 is a scientific study, and according to the dates come from around 2000
ref 3 wiki article referencing articles from 2005, ref 4 is science journalism and refers to a 1993 study
remaining refs are all studies from 2006+
So, yes, I didn't know it existed. I've never heard sleep professionals talk about it in my career to 2006ish. Good sleep was pretty universally considered a contiguous segment of uninterrupted sleep with particular cycles by sleep practitioners. My problem is not with the content - I'm open to learning about new things about stuff I 'know' - but with your description of it being something well-known and universally accepted for a long time.
I think it's fascinating, and thank you for providing references. But it's really a very new avenue of formally studied biology.
I didn't mean among practitioners, I meant among research, i.e. that there isn't significant criticism, which to me makes it accepted. It's normal for there to be huge lag between research and practice, especially since research is frequently wrong.
I remember reading about this many many years ago, and it was written as if it had been known for even longer before that. But I guess the recent references seem to start with 1993 which is long, but not as long as I thought it was.
Thank you for the links. It's a fascinating topic. Sleep medicine and the theory behind it is really, really interesting. Actually conducting sleep studies - attaching things, watching people sleep all night, then finishing off your shift smelling people's morning breath... is one of the most boring jobs in the world :)
I sailed on a ship that had six four-hour watches with three watch groups. That meant that one group would stand two 4-hour watches per 24-hour period (eg, 4am-8am then 4pm-8pm). With less than eight hours between watches, you had no choice but to sleep in two different blocks each day.
The effects of such a schedule and standing watch in a windowless engine room deep in the hull of the ship are quite interesting. For example, people (myself included) would completely forget whether it is PM or AM. If you occasionally go outside--rather than straight from the engine room to your bunk--you never knew whether to expect it to be light or dark out. I often went out expecting to reminisce under the star-laden sky, only to find out it's broad daylight out.
In fact, I had an opportunity to live in Barcelona for three months and while a lot of businesses do close down from noon to three, I got the impression that people were not using that time to sleep, and that the idea of siesta in Catalunya is on the decline.
Same for a more rural area of Mexico (Toluca surroundings), they also did siestas there.
Googling a bit, acording to Time magazine, siesta was struck down in Mexico in 1944, so it's more a myth than reality now I guess (probably subsists in some more rural areas).
My impression was that siesta still persisted in some countries, but that it tends to disappear as they conform to western work hours, and, as the Time article states, it does involve four commutes instead of two, so it's not workable in urban areas (btw, people who siesta still work the same amount of hours, I'm not saying they work less).
Regarding the article, I guess one should just do what works for them (their body). Some people find it necessary to get 8 hours of sleep, and some are okay with six.
It goes both ways.
Ironically, all of the industry's marketing makes people anxious about getting enough sleep--and makes it harder for them to get to sleep (thus propagating the need for more expensive mattresses and pillows.)
One lifelong problem I've got is sleeping. I have great trouble falling asleep, and my sleeping patterns are very uncommon: some days I sleep 12 hours, some 5, but I'm usually very tired because of this. However, I used to think I had a "gift" of being really creative and having my best ideas just before sleep, just waking up, and during insomnia episodes. However, I've discovered that many suffer from this phenomena (anyone here?). This article could explain a lot!
This tricked me into thinking that I'm an extreme night owl, and it kept me from ever getting really good sleep.
Now, I've quit caffeinated beverages entirely, and I get tired around 11:30 pm every night, and I sleep fantastically well. I wake up naturally around 9:30 every morning and feel great.
All that is to say ... consider caffeine and other "drugs". You might be surprised how much they're affecting you.
Falling asleep for me is easy. I pretty much always wake up about four hours later. Then sometimes I remain wide awake for another few hours. After which I'm ready for sleep again. The second bout is pretty glorious. This does mean however, that I need to pretty much put 11 hours aside each night, if I want to play to my bodily demands.
My other half rather annoyingly insists everyone should wake when they rise. Which just isn't good for my mental health - or my programming for that matter!
i frequently come home late, drink a diet coke or whatever, and head straight to bed. i've gone back and forth between drinking a six pack of diet mountain dew a day and nothing and never noticed a difference. i can slam two bottles of Bawls (160mg) or eat 3 Fooshes (http://www.thinkgeek.com/caffeine/candy/6e27, >300mg total) and still take (and want) a nap.
if i gave myself anything close the amount of sleep i appear to be capable of taking, i'd never be up to get anything done....
Me for example, I feel very sleepy after drinking coffee. This was against my expectation and I blogged about it the second time it happened to me: http://0x40.blogspot.com/2007/08/wheres-that-forward-biased-...
I was born in India and my family does not drink coffee, hence I was never exposed to it during my childhood, except now and then, at parties.
It was only at work that I tried it out regularly and because of the way it affected me, I had to give it up.
I even joke that a few cups of coffee would probably help me go to sleep (but I have never tried it out in practice yet)
It has been 4 years since I blogged about it and I would probably have drunk less than 5 cups since then, with none in the last year, so addiction is out of the question.
Sugar works very well to wake me up, but I have to look out for and handle the subsequent crash later.
On an (un)related note, I also have tremendous tolerance to alcohol. I found this out a decade ago when I could legally drink and would experiment with various spirits and liqueur. Since budget was limited, each of us in a group has a limited number of shots, and I used to feel awkward when my friends used to talk about "that dizzy feeling" and I did not experience any. It was only later that I found out what was going on.
This also means my options to reach the "state of bliss" is limited, and the cheapest way for me to reach that state is meditation.
I am not sure if both symptoms are related, but someone who follows this more closely can perhaps comment.
I usually go to bed between 9:30 and 11:00, and I drink my coffee black if that makes a difference. Maybe it's all the sugar that's keeping people up (or it could be that different people have significantly variant biochemistries; who knew?)
edit: I knew I remembered seeing this...
Abstract: "We explored whether caffeine, and expectation of having consumed caffeine, affects attention, reward responsivity and mood using double-blinded methodology. 88 participants were randomly allocated to ‘drink-type’ (caffeinated/decaffeinated coffee) and ‘expectancy’ (told caffeinated/told decaffeinated coffee) manipulations. Both caffeine and expectation of having consumed caffeine improved attention and psychomotor speed. Expectation enhanced self-reported vigour and reward responsivity. Self-reported depression increased at post-drink for all participants, but less in those receiving or expecting caffeine. These results suggest caffeine expectation can affect mood and performance but do not support a synergistic effect."
Fast forward a couple years and I am in college. I hate, absolutely detest the taste of any american coffee. I don't know what's missing, but I only enjoy coffee in India. I went from 4-6 cups a day to about 1 cup a week in a couple weeks. Nowadays, I don't drink much coffee at all, probably 2 or 3 cups a month at the most. But when I am in India, I drink as much as I can. :)
While the parent commenter may indeed be addicted, it's also possible that he is simply unaffected by caffeine. I certainly find that true for me.
PS: And I do mean zero for the full 30 days if you have any caffeine you have to start over.
Drinking tea is part of the culture of my family, so I started drinking it at a very young age (as soon as I could hold a cup?) with 3/4 milk and 1/4 tea. As I got older, the amount of tea increased until there was no milk left. These days, whoever I visit, it seems I can always count on being offered a cup of tea.
When I started having all sorts of issues sleeping at a young age, it just didn't occur to me or anyone that it could be the copious amounts of tea. Doctors ran tests on my blood numerous times and didn't find anything. They asked me all sorts of questions (even if I was pregnant at the tender age of 15, which shocked young innocent me), but caffeine never came up. Strangely, sending me to bed earlier resulted in tossing and turning even longer into the wee hours of the morning. Sleeping pills just resulted in feeling strangely dazed, but still not sleeping.
These days I have stopped drinking tea/caffeine after a certain hour in hopes of getting more sleep, but I still drink a cup of coffee in the morning and I still have troubles getting to sleep (takes a couple of hours no matter hour exhausted I feel). Maybe it's time to cut out the caffeine completely.
It is sometimes possible to remain fully aware in what is essentially a full-on dream state. This is the best of both worlds, combining the rationality and critical thinking of the waking state, with the unbound creativity of the dream. It's like opening up the firehose of new ideas, while remaining in control.
I am fairly certain that at least some of the unusual claims made by people who practice meditation a lot (such as having access to a higher "wisdom", etc.) are based on gaining a measure of control over these states. For this reason, I think it's worth exploring some of the traditional meditation systems, seen as empirical "brain hacking" techniques. I'd love to see more research done in this field; some of Sam Harris' work is relevant.
Regarding sleep, read something very interesting the other day about Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD). Something that might help is a program called f.lux that reduces the blue light in your monitor in the evening, supposedly making it easier it to sleep. I haven't tried it yet but intend to soon.
Yeah. Keep looking for the right career / hobby / spiritual path / etc., and it will likely come to you. Provided you are sincere and are actually looking.
I've a different bias, myself, but to each his own. The various buddhist techniques also seem well suited for the western skeptics, since they typically don't require adherence to any theology at all. You could practice Zen and be a total agnostic or atheist. "Brain hacking" in its purest form. YMMV.
I find Zen difficult, myself. Feels too... um... dry, for lack of a better word. I require something that engages the emotional apparatus, and the physical base, in a more active fashion. I guess this is like preferring Python over Ruby over Perl over etc.etc.etc. Everyone's different.
Once it was morning, but I was not awake. I saw a tablet with writing on it, infinite detail like a fractal going deeper and deeper. But I knew I wasn't awake, my eyes were closed. But the clarity was amazing. My eyes were closed and yet I saw like as if my eyes were open. I told myself this is what having photographic memory must be like.
Another time it was morning again and I thought I was awake. But I saw things floating in the air, like holograms of objects. And somehow I knew, I was still sleeping, but not sleeping. What I saw was a perfect memory recall of my room, a place I had seen thousands of times. But it was all in my mind and my mind could insert impossible objects at will.
Yet another time I heard the most beautiful music. I'm not a musician, and I can't remember anything about the music. I just remember it was amazing, like something bach would create.
These weren't like normal dreams which are forgotten soon after waking. They left a lasting impression, and even though I can't recall the images or the music, somehow I can remember the awe and wonder of the experience.
Lucid dreams. I get these quite often, sometimes with full control, most of the time you wake up as soon as you realize you have control.
Also, dreams tend to fade rapidly. If you plan to use them to get ideas, it's best to write the ideas down immediately, before the ideas evaporate.
Ah, yes. It's a little bit different. Clarity, calm, a kind of purely-mental energy, an ease to achieve good focus. Sometimes a positive, sunny feeling (unless you're completely exhausted or stressed, in which case it's nasty); other times quite an intense but smooth joy. But at the purely physical level, batteries are running out.
The twilight state has less clarity (it's not obscure, though), and calm doesn't enter the picture. But it's full of this roiling primeval emotional drive to create (in a very wide, general sense). It's where dreams come from, and most inspiring ideas. Some folks find it easier to experience it if they linger in bed in the morning, trying to avoid yanking themselves out of sleep directly into full waking state. It's a fragile thing, handle it gently.
Starting from about age 12, but definitely getting worse as I get older, sleep is something I just can't seem to get right, no matter how I approach it.
I've tried getting eight hours of sleep, and it doesn't work. I do pretty good on six hours, but only for a while. Over the course of a few weeks, six becomes four, which becomes three, which is then two, and suddenly it's 3 days later and I'm still awake.
When it gets to the point that I find myself getting less than four hours of sleep a night, the only way I can force my body to sleep more, despite being very physically tired, is with medication. Of course, most sleep aids can't be taken for long periods of time, so that only helps for a short while.
Sometimes I don't get tired until 4am, and other times it's all I can do to stay awake at 6pm, regardless of whether I got up at 6:30 in the morning, or noon.
I've tried enforcing a rigid schedule, meditation, exercise, various sleep aids, antidepressants (Pazil, Zoloft), just "going with it", and as of late, melatonin supplements at the recommendation of my doctor. They helped for a few weeks, but then that, too, stopped being effective.
The closest I get to a normal sleep schedule is that about half the time, I can go to sleep around 4am and get up at 10am - but that's not really a very practical solution and there are 3-4 days a week where it's just not at all possible from a logistics standpoint.
This is called Hypnogogia
The only way I can definitely replicate it is to stay up all night. The next day I will feel a lot more creative, but at the same time a lot less coordinated, frequently tired and not able to concentrate on doing something complicated. Also it's super easy to forget things, so you need to write down all your ideas.
I dunno if you often for instance stay up very very late with friends talking about things, but I think there is a similar effect at some point.
The comments on that mention Thomas Edison also doing something similar.
His recommendation is that sleep cycles typically happen in 4 hour intervals so it's best to sleep 4 or 8 hours a night.
Getting up int he middle of a sleep cycle is often as bad as getting less than 4 hours of sleep.
And going to bed drunk is the worst for your sleep cycle.
What about those 90 minute cycles that are also commonly cited in popular sleep-advice? Those wouldn't work into a 4hour schedule.
Are you referring to those sleep cycles where you have 4 90 minute naps a day instead of sleeping once at night?
I'm not the subject matter expert, so I don't want to speak authoritatively:)
Their latest research indicates that a full sleep cycle lasts approximately 4 hours, which does fly in the face of the older sleep data.
it's entirely possible that their hypothesis will turn out to be incorrect.
Tough to say if this was a 19th century phenomenon or was persistent through history based on the structure of their corpus.
Does anyone have links to more research, perhaps with something a little more actionable of a conclusion?
I think that this bears out to what many of us are experiencing, and the idea to consider is simply to stop worrying about it and embrace it. The 'second sleep' is likely getting cut short, because we are not budgeting for the break.
I consistently tend to find myself daydreaming during this part of the night, anxious (as the article notes) about not sleeping. So personally, I'm just going to continue doing this without worry, and budget time for it. Duh, right? Why didn't I think of that before? It makes perfect sense now after reading the article.
I may even go wild and actually get up and do things for an hour or two every night, you know, for science.
Many thanks to the poster.
If my wife and I split our sleep cycle into two 4 hour periods we can better spend my four hours of free time.
The waking period between my commute and first sleep could be spend eating dinner, playing with the kids, and exercise. After my first sleep I can spend time with my wife, and study with a rested mind. Theoretically it seems like a good idea. We'll see how I cope after a week or two of trying.
Also, maybe interesting - two 4 hour sleep cycle with a couple hours between is what happens naturally to me after a night of too much drinking. I wonder if there's some reason for that.
But science says that shouldn't happen!?
Not enough evidence to suggest that there's any kind of regularity to how humans "should" sleep yet.
So it is not just less than 8 hours makes things worse, same applies to more then 8 hours. So it is either I have to sleep 6-8 hours only, or I have adapted to this schedule so well, that anything else makes me feel terrible.
On the other hand, I have handful examples of me traveling with few flight changes, timezones changes, more than 30 hours in flights/airports, and after getting to my destination I spent full 16 hours day working or meeting with friends just fine. May be a little dizzy. And after consequent 8 hours sleep night - feel great next day.
This suggest, that it (8 hours sleep requirement) is more than just a something "hardwired" in to human's body...
Yes, sleep is weird.
If you wake up because you have to, or if you just happen to wake up in the middle of the night naturally?
Alarm clocks are a terrible habit. They wake us up with no regard to where we are in our sleep cycles. When I used an alarm, I used to wake up and go back to sleep until the alarm went off. Then I would hit the snooze button forever. With no alarm, I just get up the first time I wake up in the morning. I almost always wake up at the end of a good sleep cycle.
Getting rid of my alarm clock decreased my overall amount of sleep but greatly increased the quality of my sleep.
This approach works for many (my grandfather used this his whole working life, but not for me, sadly.
The other thing that helped at first was repeating in my mind, in a relaxed way, what time I wanted to wake up. I found I'd wake up within a few minutes of the time I wanted to wake up, consistently. Our brains keep track of time, and to some degree it seems we can tap into that.
most folks I know, including me, have serious problems with sleep. it seems like we tap into each corner of human body and understand less or more how it works, but yet there is no real science behind how sleep works and how much of it we need. Heck, afaik scientists still argue why we need sleep at all and whats the main reasoning behind it. But not to brag too much: sometimes it happens to me that I sleep less hours and am more refreshed than sleeping longer, or even legit 7 or 8. I guess I just hit the right spot at the right time and REM phases worked out. If someone comes up with a device that can help you sleep not too long not to short so you always wake up fresh, I think he/she will nail a billion dollar idea!
> Just get rid of your alarm clock, and wake up when your body tells you to.
means you are telling me and everyone else to get a rid of your [mine] alarm clock.
Guess not everyones body acts the same, right?
A good second choice seems to be using something like 'Sleep Cycle' for iPhone, or one of these fancy new wristband accelerometer gizmos. I've had good success with Sleep Cycle, myself.
I'm really liking the Sleep Cycle app, too. Works great, simple, best 99 cents I've spent. Prior to it, I had the $69 WakeMate wristband, but never warmed up to it – it was uncomfortable, and a pain to set and keep charged.
For a long time, I used to wake up about 2 minutes before the alarm. Every single morning.
Lately, though, I've been waking up 20-60 minutes early. I just shrug and decide whether I feel like I need the extra time, or if I should do something with it. I usually get up and do something.
1 hr * 365 days / 24 hours in day ~ 15 days.
And these are 24hours day. What it really should be:
1 hr * 365 days / (24 hours in day - 6 hours you sleep on average) ~ 21 days.
Which is, well, in office terms, work month :) congrats, you got 1/12 life for free :)
Dreams are the most beautiful things to ever happen to humans. I have always lived two lives one in dreams and one while am awake.
And some experiences that I've had dreaming just can't be had while I'm awake.
When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.
Not too long ago I suffered from minor insomnia and lucid dreaming. It was awful, to the point where I started to dread bedtime. For me, my diet at the time (fatty foods + sugar + caffeine + alcohol) had a lot to do with it, so once I committed to a healthy diet, my body settled back into a consistent sleep cycle. I guess it's really what works for you.
Edit: I'm curious what the recommended amount of sleep, or if it really is an individual thing per 24 hour or so period.
'Plunging' people into 14 hours of darkness per day? Does this sound like a scientifically sound way to determine the natural sleeping patterns of humans?
Segmented sleep is interesting but I don't think a majority of people could balance that with family and work.
What I know is if I sleep less than seven hours I feel like crap during the day.
That's less than one reference every 2 weeks. Either that guy had the most relaxing job in the world, or it is genuinely difficult to find such references.
Assuming the latter to give the researcher the benefit of the doubt here;
how deep do you have to look before you start to think that maybe this isn't actually that common after all?
Also, how the bbc title reflects this study is beyond me.