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The myth of the eight-hour sleep

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#1    Still Waters

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 02:19 PM

www.bbc.co.uk said:

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.

Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists.

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#2    Timonthy



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Posted 23 February 2012 - 02:29 PM

I'm only in bed for about 6-7 hours a night (I have to get up 7 hours from now, for instance) during the week, and lucky to be in bed for longer than 8 when I can afford a sleep in.
Personally I think sleep is great (I often have epic dreams which are lucid and combine elements of games/movies I've been playing and watching as well as many other influences - which seem to last all night), but for the amount of time we spend sleeping, I can't help but feel it's a bit of a waste of time.
Imagine if we could function normally on 4 hours sleep a day - or less. Hopefully we will somehow figure out a way to induce deep sleep continually from the moment we get in bed so that we can have shorter, deeper sleeps.

Anyway, in relation to the article, I would feel like I was wasting even more time sleeping in that way. I couldn't do it! One sufficient deep sleep for me please!

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#3    and then

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 03:34 PM

I remember an old adage that "every hour you sleep before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight."  I never understood that but maybe there was some validity to it after all.  I also remember reading an account of a man who lived with and studied wolves for a couple of years.  He even took on some of the pack habits, one of which was napping for 15 minutes or so throughout the day.  He said he never felt more alert or well rested than when he was doing this.

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#4    Englishgent


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Posted 23 February 2012 - 03:37 PM

For as long as I can remember I have only had around 4 or 5 hours sleep a night. I wake up frequently during the night and finally , even though I am now retired and do not have to get up, I get out of bed any time between 5 and 6am. I usually go to bed around midnight. I used to put it down to 30 years of working various shifts ruining my sleep pattern, but maybe I just dont need as much sleep as others do. It still annoys me though, when people say, oh, I can sleep for eight hours every night. lol.   :)

#5    karmakazi


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Posted 24 February 2012 - 04:35 PM

I've never been able to sleep very long, it's either been insomnia and up late or if I fall asleep at a reasonable hour I wake up several times through the night and usually before my alarm goes off.  Every weekend I try to sleep in, but even if I go to bed at 3 am I'm still up by 8 without fail.

I worked 2nd shift for about 11 years and it feels much more natural to me to go to bed around 3-5 am and then wake up at 10... I've been on 1st shift for five years and I'm still not used to it.

The article reminds me of how gerbils sleep... usually they sleep for an hour and then they're up running around for a couple of hours, then sleep again and it continues whether day or night.

Edited by karmakazi, 24 February 2012 - 04:36 PM.

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#6    King Fluffs

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 06:35 PM

I awake every hour or so anyway.

#7    Wordless Wanderer

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 02:59 PM

I sleep for 4 and a half hours every day. I somehow can never sleep soundly. Posted Image

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#8    Paracelse


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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:13 PM

And of course the French excuse is:


A doctor's manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day's labour but "after the first sleep", when "they have more enjoyment" and "do it better".

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#9    Wordless Wanderer

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:16 PM

View PostParacelse, on 25 February 2012 - 03:13 PM, said:

And of course the French excuse is:

Tres bien :lol:

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#10    Heroic Bishop

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 11:25 AM

I can safely say the only time I have ever slept 8 hours is when I have been ill, an Influenza virus or the like.

I usually get around 5 hours sleep which is a good nights sleep for me. If I sleep longer I feel more tired during the day strangely, and can sometimes feel unwell.

8 hours sleep is definitely a 'healthy living' myth for me.

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#11    TheVeryFirstDinosaur


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Posted 26 February 2012 - 01:24 PM

I have insomnia. Melatonin and ambien are required if I want a decent reset, or else I'll finally pass out at ungodly hours, and sleep way to much into the afternoon.

#12    Dimentoid


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Posted 26 February 2012 - 02:09 PM

I'm all set, then. ^_^

Not that I have trouble sleeping, really. But I often wake up in the middle of the night for no particular reason.

#13    David Thomson

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 03:05 PM

I have found that eating deep fried foods (particularly fried chicken and french fries) cause weird dreams at night.  Eating sweets, particularly before going to bed, cause me to wake up in the middle of the night.  For about fifteen years I was getting only about five or six hours of sleep and thought it was just old age.  After a fall I had, I developed incontinence and started wearing diapers to bed.  The combination of avoiding fried foods, sweets, and wearing diapers has caused my sleep to become deep again and now I sleep a deep, wonderful eight hours a night and feel great when I wake up.

#14    Mbyte


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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:13 PM

This article has opened worlds for me. I have always pondered about with my sleep cycle. One pattern that I was definatly noticing was the 4 hour cycle. I noticed clearly that I would wake up like a new penny if I woke on the fourth hour or on the eighth hour. If I would wake up in between those two 4 hours blocks I would feel like a dead weight. It was often confusing. You think "But I slept for 7 or 10 hours! how could I feel like ****" I started to realise that if I set the alarm clock for eight hours and it all worked out right I would wake up quicker and more refreshed then I would an hour earlier or an hour later. If I was up all night and had work in the morning I would wake up like a new penny if I set the clock to go off roughly four hours after I sleep. I'd feel like crap by 12 but at least getting up was cheatingly easy.

I'm definatly taking this on board and living by this from now on. I won't feel guilty for feeling tired at 8 o'clock anymore.

Also for those 4 hour sleepers, there are people out there coined "Super Sleepers" These are people that sleep like a charm for fourish hours and they wake up like a a new penny and that's all the sleep they need for the day. One famous Irish business man is a self proclaimed Super Sleeper and can't see how people could waist their time actually sleeping 8 hours.

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#15    Ahzi_Dhaka


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Posted 26 February 2012 - 06:53 PM

I read somewhere that us humans were used to sleeping in "segments" of Three to Four hours, with a waking period of an hour or so (that was usually used for sex) and then going back to sleep for another Three or Four hours, but with the advent of artificial lighting we cut the nighttime from 12-14 hrs (in some places) back to our "recommended" 7-8 hrs of "night" usually people who "think" they have insomnia or other sleeping problems are only doing what comes natural to us, if you dont think "OH GOD I WOKE UP AND I WONT GO BACK TO SLEEP!!!" its easier to go back to sleep.

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