Are we sleeping the wrong way?
There are many countries and cultures that follow the concept of biphasic sleep, that is, sleeping in two slots during a day. Some follow sleeping six hours at night and 120 minutes during the day; some ancient civilizations have been known to split their sleep in two slots of four hours each. Studies now are suggesting that sleeping in two segments can increase one’s alertness, can better his time management and provide him with greater flexibility to carry out his work.
Today, it is reported that about a third of the world’s population has trouble falling or staying asleep. Waking up in the middle of the sleep could signify what used to be followed by our ancestors. For them, it could be the norm to wake up at that time and have a segmented sleep. In fact, there have been mentions of ‘first’ and ‘second’ sleep in African and American tribes and in many texts of medieval literature.
Is it why we feel the post-lunch dip in energy?
Meanwhile, many sleep scientists are also saying that the monophasic way of sleep that we follow is simply a result of the advent of electricity. Our ancestors, without an artificial source of light, had to depend on sun to light their homes. They are known to go to bed at 8:30 pm and woke up at 2:30 am to read or pray. Segmented sleep was only ubiquitously followed.
Now, that we have routines that require us to work 8 to 12 hours a day and commute for the same, we have all the resources that do not handicap us to natural light for our day to day activity.
Should we sleep twice a day?
Though studies are claiming that biphasic sleep may be better for our body clocks and give us certain advantages, can we really adopt to it in a modern set-up? What will happen if we do? As doctors advise an ‘uninterrupted’ 8-hour sleep, how does the biphasic sleep bode with that?
Changing your sleep pattern can negatively affect your body and can keep your energy drained out throughout the day. If one tries to push a certain sleep cycle on his body, it may even destroy his circadian rhythm and biological clock. In fact, one of the prominent causes of postpartum depression in women is known to be irregular sleep routine that they get after the delivery of a child. So, one can only wonder if the biphasic sleep model would really be something worth the energy and time of research being put into it.