dinsdag 10 mei 2016

Modern Sleeping Patterns And Stress

Apparently the new research shows that our ancestors didn't sleep 8 hours straight  but rather had what is called "segmented sleep", which was divided into "first" and "second sleep" with a period in between used for prayer, meditation, writing poetry, making love with your spouse (doctors recommended it for a better chance of conception) and even visiting neighbours in some cases.

The researchers speculate that it was the way our bodies adjusted to the long hours of darkness, especially during those winter nights, when it's dark for about 14 hours. It all started changing when the big cities such as Paris and Amsterdam introduced street lightning and segmented sleep virtually disappeared during and after Industrial Revolution with its cult of efficiency. It was considered wasteful just to spend so many hours in bed doing nothing and moreover, late evenings became a fashionable time for socialising.

The existence of segmented sleep explains something which has always puzzled me, namely the fact that monasteries used to have special midnight sermons (and some probably do now). It also shows that our ancestors probably used to lead a more relaxed lifestyle and enjoyed more rest than we do now.

The interesting thing is that some doctors speculate that the two-hour interval between the first and second sleep was important for stress reduction, as during this period of being not totally awake and not fully asleep the pituitary gland produced high levels of prolactin, a stress-reducing hormone.

If you are interested in this topic, here are some links:

The long and short of bimodal sleep

Your Ancestors Didn't Sleep Like You

The myth of eight-hour sleep

If you wake up in the middle of the night, it doesn't necessarily mean you suffer from insomnia. It can just be that your body tries to revert to the ancient sleeping patterns! 
    

19 opmerkingen:

  1. Very interesting topic. I admire the nocturne program of monasteries and it is true that night vigils don't exhaust the body if one sleeps in the afternoon or late evening. Our Easter Liturgy was 2 weeks ago from 12-4 at night. I was ok and the sleepy sensation dissapeared in a natural way after sleeping some hours till 8 a.m., I had energy to cope with the meals and family. This has been the case each and every year. It is not a coincidence. I often feel the necessity to sleep early in the evening and then feel fresh at 12-1 at midnight. We usually sleep after this traditional schedule during Easter night: a good nap in the late afternoon and then sleep again between 5-8 in the morning. There are monks who have another programme on a regular basis: they pray from 6-9 at church, work from 9-12, rest from 13-15 in their room, work from 15-17, pray from 17-23 at church, sleep till morning. Not every monastery has the same programme but I tried this particular schedule in one of the monasteries I visited years ago. The conclusion is either you sleep in the afternoon and stay awake some hours around midnight and sleep again till morning or you sleep in the evening between 21-23 and stay awake longer hours during the night and then sleep again between 4-7 or 5-8 in the morning. I'd like occasionally 1 or 2 nocturne hours spent for thinking, praying, reading but only if I can sleep before and after staying awake.

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  2. Alexandra, my husband has been sleeping like this for years. He comes home, eats his dinner and then sleeps for about 2 hours, till 9.30 p.m. He then stays awake till after midnight and wakes up next morning at 6 a.m. without any problem. I have been nagging him about his lack of sleep but such sleeping patterns actually appear to be beneficial!

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  3. Yes, it is beneficial although some scientists say we have to sleep between 22 till midnight but I never do. I am active at 22-23 and have trouble with falling asleep before midnight generally. I sometimes stay over midnight if I have serious thinking to do. My husband falls asleep very easily. He is always a positive thinker and solution finder. I think too much during nights.

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  4. Alexandra, reading of boring and/or children's books helps.

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  5. Housewife from Finland11 mei 2016 om 02:59

    I have read that back in the 80's people used to get one hour more sleep than we do nowadays. It is weird how people seem to be so very proud if they are too busy to sleep!

    Sanne, my husband's natural rythm sounds very similar to your husband's. I propably should stop nagging to him, too...

    I sleep poorly and I have tried to avoid late naps, because that's what we have been told. Maybe it has been a mistakes. (I usually nap before or after my lunch, if I feel I need it, otherwise I just rest.)

    Sleep is an interesting subject indeed. Did you for example know, that a lady can synchronize her menstrual cycle with moon by manipulating the lights in the bedroom? One should sleep in total darkness during new moon and have a little night light during full moon. I have jet to try this, since on these latitudes the total darkness is very hard to achieve like half of the year. (on the other half there is nothing but total darkness. :))

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  6. Housewife, nowadays it's all about activity for the sake of activity. People consider it a waste of time to sit long at a dinner table or to take a nap, and yet what are they doing with all these extra hours? Visiting social media, playing computer games, watching telly and other such time-killing activities. It's not like they are studying Chinese or translating ancient Latin poetry or doing anything at all remotely productive.

    Yes, I've read it somewhere about the moon, moon was traditionally associated with all sorts of womanly stuff in the times past. P.S. poor sleep at night can also be a consequence of hormones being out of order.

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  7. Since I have been very active around 22 every evening I started thinking about doing something about it. I stay awake at least 1 hour later than my husband and I can't always fall asleep in a sweet afternoon nap. I'll try reading something innocent. Sleep is very important and I wish I could get sleepy eyes in the afternoon like children usually have. My husband can have naps very quickly he just needs a bed and he always enjoys rest when possible after his working agenda. I have to learn more from his relaxed attitude. He often invites me to rest and I start doing things that were pending. Resting properly means working properly afterwards.

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  8. May be you should do something quiet in the evenings, like knitting? it's hardly a good time for cleaning the apartment or starting a big project.

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  9. Housewife from Finland11 mei 2016 om 09:24

    What is weird about my sleeping pattern is that I usually can very easily take 20 minutes "power nap". (I hate that word, even your naps should obviously be really effective and productive...) But whe the night comes, I find it very hard to fall asleep.

    Preoteasa, have you tried praying silently the Jesus Prayer? And synchronizing it with breathing: inhale "Jesus Christ, Son of God" and exhale: "have mercy on me, a sinner." It sometimes helps me. It is beneficial to keep exhale longer than the inhale. That prayer has most beautiful rythm in finnish, so it works wonderfully with breathing.

    When I was teenager and had sleeping problems (this happened before I spend over a decade in ateism), I used to read Pater Noster, The Lord Bless You, Ave Maria and one finnish child's prayer over and over again until I fell asleep. At least it kept me from worrying... But I think it was too much memorizing and therefore prevented me from falling a sleep. Jesus Prayer is perfect, since it is so short and rhythmic.

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  10. Housewife, what a great idea! You could also try retelling yourself favourite books, especially children's books like Winnie-the-pooh.

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  11. I am a talented sleeper. I haven't had any problems with sleeping ever, or maybe once or twice in my life. I think people have different sleeping patterns that work for them. (I am dreaming of a winter I would be awake only the hours that have natural light, ie 5-6 hours a day...)

    My mother adviced me to read the bible if I couldn't fall asleep as a teenager. She said the evil inclination would make you sleepy... Praying was another short-cut she recommended...

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    Reacties
    1. With different sleeping patterns I mean patterns that work with your personality or with your life (small children, shift work etc.)

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  12. Lucky you:) Do you mean that you naturally sleep longer during winter or that you wish you could? reading the Bible is a very good suggestion, too...

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    Reacties
    1. Well, yes and yes. I wish I could live according to natural light. I'd like to experiment if it would be possible to sleep less in the summer when it is rarely dark and pay it later in the winter. I don¨t actually know if I sleep more in wintertime, but it really feels late at 8.30 pm in winter comparing to 8.30 pm in summer. People tend to eat more during winter and magazines are full of articles about 'polar night depression', bright light therapy etc. Why do we imagine we need to be the same energetic person all year round? Even the nature is sleeping and hibernating during the cold and dark months. Just wondering...

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    2. You know Miriam, in pre-industrial times folks used to live according to the agricultural calender so they worked more during the summer and relaxed and slept more during the long winter nights. But the factory runs the whole year through and the artificial light changes night into day. It brought some good things, but we probably did lose something, too.

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    3. I grew up on a farm. Maybe my yearning for more natural cycle is something I got used to when I was a child?

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  13. Housewife & Miriam, you are right , the Jesus prayer is a very good prayer for keeping your mind close to God while resting or before falling asleep. I've been reading several guiding lines about how to pray with it. Maybe I should combine this prayer with some psalms. They are among my favourite prayers and have a very complex effect on the soul. I must stop thinking about plans or other stuff before sleeping.
    Sanne, good idea about avoiding cleaning before sleeping. I'll have to finish chores earlier in the evening and prepare the atmosphere for sleeping well. I usually stay with the children before their sleeping hours and some tasks in the kitchen remain pending before my sleeping hours.

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  14. Alexandra, you'd better do those kitchen tasks next day.

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