Sleeping is essential for rejuvenating the mind and revitalizing the body. Many people wake up during the night which makes them wonder whether they suffer from some kind of a sleep disorder or another health issue. There is a possibility that sleep may not be an all-night thing. If you frequently wake up during the night then you most probably suffer from insomnia or sleep apnea.
But a ‘segmented sleep’ is an irregular sleep pattern which may not be a disorder at all, but a natural biological response which we forgot. The English scholar Roger Ekirch had an idea that our ancestors ‘practiced’ the segmented sleep, waking up in the middle of the night to pray, mediate, or finish home duties, and cemented the idea with legal documents and letters finding references to ‘first’ and ‘second’ sleep in them. The period between the two sleeps was found to be the most relaxing happening around midnight when the brain produces prolactin, the hormone which supports the feeling of relaxation.
Modern day sleeping problems are connected to the natural preferences for segmented sleep in the human body, Ekirch believes. The reason why many people suffer from the condition named ‘sleep maintenance insomnia’ where individuals wake in the middle of the night having trouble getting back to sleep after are connected to our historical sleeping patterns. This appeared by the end of the 19th century for the first time.
The psychologist Greg Jacobs says that waking up during the night is a part of the normal human psychology. The idea that we must sleep in a consolidated block can be damaging if that makes the people anxious. The anxiety can prohibit sleep and is likely to seep into waking life as well.
Russell Foster, a professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford says that many people who wake up at night panic. That is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern. Many of the doctors fail to acknowledge that the consolidated 8-hour sleep may be unnatural as more than 30% of the medical issues which doctors face stem from sleep directly or indirectly, but this factor has been ignored in the medical training and there are couple of centers where sleep is studied.
Exposure to light and darkness govern our natural biorhythms, so before the introduction of the light bulb people scheduled their day around the rise and setting of the sun.