I love my sleep, and can get a bit twitchy when I don’t get a good eight hours. Ask my OH. :-) It seems, though, that I’m doing it wrong. I ought to be sleeping for four hours, getting up in the early morning for an hour or two, then going back to sleep for another four hours.
In the 1990s, Thomas Wehr, a psychiatrist, experimented with making subjects experience 14 hours of darkness every day for a month. His research, published in 1992, showed that, after adjusting, they fell into bi-modal sleep quite naturally.
This type of sleep pattern was commonplace until the 17th century, apparently, but has receded completely from our collective social memory. At about the same time as references to segmented sleep start disappearing, sleep maintenance insomnia starts to appear. That’s where you sleep, wake and have trouble getting back to sleep again. If we once again recognised first and second sleeps as normal, perhaps those who can’t get back to sleep would feel less anxious about it?
After the BBC published their article, people who sleep like this wrote in with their accounts of what they do in their waking section. They watch TV, eat, pray, draw, do yoga, or just lie and look forward to their next dream. My OH, whilst not a segmented-sleeper or a regular night owl, has been out and about in the early hours, grabbing some night photos, and I think this is one of the best shots he’s taken. :-)