The myth of the eight-hour sleep
By Stephanie Hegarty
BBC World Service
22 February 2012
We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night – but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.
In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.
It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep…
I have often worried about the hours I spend lying in bed, usually starting around 2:30 am. Finally I began to accept it, and put my mind to work, reading, planning, meditating.
Now I am beginning to realise is is not a problem, simply the way our bodies work if given enough sleep time. After years of shift work and 4:30 am starts I have developed the habit of going to bed early, and now I am beginning to benefit from the time between first sleep and second sleep.