Tips & Trends

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

June 2, 2012 by
woman sleeping in park
Woman sleeping with Jane Austen

Woman sleeping with Jane Austen by WarmSleepy, on Flickr

Do you ever have those nights where you wake up after a few hours and just cannot fall back asleep? Not only are you not alone, but you may be following a more natural sleep pattern than on those nights when you slumber straight through eight solid hours!

According to historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech, who spend 16 years researching sleep patterns, there is, “a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.” Ekirch found that the typical night involved a, “first sleep” of four hours, “followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.” However, he found that between the onset of the Industrial Revolution, and the growing use of indoor lighting and street lamps, the common practice of spending long, leisurely nights with multiple “sleeps” began to fade away.

Odd as it may seem to us now, this research does seem to explain why so many of us often find ourselves wide awake, staring at the clock in the wee hours of the night. Truthfully, we find the idea of enjoying a late-night cocoa break in soft, comfortable loungewear, with a good book, and a puffy down comforter wrapped around us very appealing, although we admit that it might be tough to pull it off every night in today’s fast-paced society! What do you think?

Please comment below to share your thoughts! You can read more about Ekirch’s research on sleep patterns in, “The myth of the eight-hour sleep.

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