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The myth of uninterrupted sleep

Last year I raised the idea that waking during the night could be completely normal.

Recently I read about another piece of research that reached a similar conclusion.

A psychiatrist who was working at the US National Institute of Medical Health discovered that when he deprived subjects of artificial light they began to sleep soundly through the entire night.

However, after a while they began to naturally awaken at around midnight, lay awake for a couple of hours and then drift off back to sleep.

It would appear that when we revert to a more 'traditional' life, free of artificial light, TVs and computers, our bodies naturally adopt a split sleep schedule.

Once the volunteers stopped worrying about these nighttime awakenings, they came to actually look forward to this period in the middle of the night when they naturally woke up.

They saw it as a time for reflection and deep thinking.

Compare this to the feelings most of us experience when we wake during the night - frustration and anxiety - and it's little wonder that we find it so difficult to fall back to sleep.

Perhaps it's time to throw the entire 'ideal' of 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep out of the window. All it leads to is sleep anxiety - one of the primary causes of insomnia.

Maybe it's time we start embracing (and even looking forward to) that nighttime awakening.

Source: NY Times

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Last updated: July 27, 2015

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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