Woken up tired again? Us too! *yawns * But it turns out there could be a very good reason we always feel zonked, even after getting the golden eight hours. Experts believe that actually sleeping once a day at night isn’t actually beneficial to us. Instead we should hitting the hay twice a day.
Afternoon nap anyone?
Experts claim the idea that we should all be sleeping for a continuous eight hours is a recent invention and in fact our body clocks are much better suited to two shorter bursts of sleep ever day.
In an article published in the Conversation, Dr Melinda Jackson, a psychologist who specialises in sleep disorders at RMIT University, and Siobhan Banks, sleep researcher at the University of South Australia suggest that so-called segmented, or bi-modal sleeping was actually par for the course way back when.
“Anthropologists have found evidence that during pre-industrial Europe, bi-modal sleeping was considered the norm,” they explained before referring to a concept of first and second sleep often mentioned in old literature.
The researchers argue that in the olden days people’s bedtime wasn’t determined by the time of day (or whether you’ve caught up on Peaker Blinders), but by what they had to do and when.
“Interestingly, the appearance of sleep maintenance insomnia in the literature in the late 19th century coincides with the period where accounts of split sleep start to disappear,” Jackson and Banks go on to explain. So perhaps striving for eight hours could go someway to explain why 25% of us suffer from some sort of sleep disorder.
This isn’t the first time a two sleeps a day regime has been suggested as an alternative, potentially more beneficial sleeping pattern. In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted a month-long experiment to test the theory.
A group of people were left in darkness for 14 hours each day, as opposed to the standard eight hours. By week four, a distinct new two-phase sleep pattern had emerged. The participants would sleep for four hours, wake for one to three hours and then fall into a second four-hour sleep. Wehr concluded that people were much better suited to a split sleep pattern.
Experts argue the research suggests segmented sleeping suits our body clocks better. And it could even make the 3 o’ clock flop a thing of the past because “it provides two periods of increased activity, creativity and alertness across the day, rather than having a long wake period where sleepiness builds up across the day and productivity wanes.”
So next time you fancy a sneaky little afternoon nap, go ahead and do it. Science said you should!