Understanding the Natural Sleep Cycle

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When living in the current industrial world, it is very difficult to catch enough sleep. The social and wok life is usually filled with so many activities that act as distracters to the normal sleep. The constant contact with noise and light makes the body to fail to properly sync with the normal sleeping. This lead to may being left deprived off the sleep they would need for normal body functioning. Many of the professions suggest that a normal human being should spend at least eight hours asleep. The problem is that they don’t actually suggest when it is appropriate for one to have the sleep.

In the book about sleep, Ekirch propounded that before industrialization human being slept in two different bouts. This was the period before the introduction of electricity and gas light. He referred to them as the first and the second sleep. He said that if the human being had no interruption of the gaslight and electricity, the sleeping pattern would be very different from what people have today. Since the body functions similarly with the rotation of the earth, the human being would sleep with the setting up of the dark and wake up with the natural light.

Before the introduction of the artificial lighting, the sleeping cycle of all individuals was very natural. People used to sleep an hour or two after the sunset and slept for about four hours, a period which they later woke up. After being awake, they remained up for several hours before returning to sleep at two in the morning. They slept till sunset. What were the people doing in the break between the two sleep bouts? Ekirch says that they carried out the normal activities a normal human being would do during the day. This was later disrupted with industrialization and introduction of the artificial lighting.

There are enough proof that we would still be sleeping in bouts were it not for the disruption. A sleep researcher called Thomas Wer carried out a research to prove the theory of the two sleeping bouts by Ekirch. He placed eight men under test by exposing them to only ten hours of light daily and the rest was darkness. He observed that the men adopted the same two bout sleep that was propounded by Ekirch. The men had between two to three bouts of sleep each night with an hour of wakefulness between them. In most cases, the normal human being exposes themselves to over sixteen hours of light with only eight in the dark.

This shows that if the human being were exposed to the natural light and freed the normal hectic life, they would return back to the olden sleeping cycles. It seem that every one usually have two bouts of sleep each night. But when one is sleep deprived, they tend to spend fewer hours asleep and the entire cycle gets corrupted. The best way to understand the sleeping cycle would by experimenting in ones sleeping patter to be able to understand the cycle. 


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