30 Mar Is your broken sleep breaking you?
Are you annoyed by a persistent awakening that occurs “like clockwork” every night? Maybe you can thank your ancestors?
A recent Huffington Post article published the other day highlights some pioneering research, both scientific and historical, that sheds light on how our sleep has evolved over time. The bottom line is that humans used to sleep in two chunks: a first sleep and a second sleep. The first chunk occurred in the first few hours of the night and the second chunk occurred in the early morning hours. Somewhere in between those chunks, historical research suggests this was the time people engaged in quiet reflection, tended the fire, or interpreted dreams.
When I share this information with my weary eyed insomnia clients, a smile takes over their face. “That’s me!” they say. Unfortunately, this segmented sleep, with all of its quiet middle of the night reflection, was common before the industrial revolution. Things have obviously changed. We don’t have time to quietly reflect at night when the alarm is going off in a couple of hours! “I’ve gotta get back to sleep!” Am I hitting a nerve somewhere?
While we can’t go back and change what may be a carry over from our ancestors’ sleep, there are things you can do to push those chunks of sleep back together.
Here are some tips!
Careful not to doze off in front of the TV in the evening. Even a few seconds matters. Do you nap? I didn’t think so, but watch the dozing during the day e.g. in a meeting, lecture, or as a passenger in a car.
Many people choose to take sleep medications to push their sleep chunks together. This can be helpful for a while, but working with an integrative health coach and sleep specialist can help you learn that you don’t need them forever. I’ll chime in more on that in future blogs. I shared some of my thoughts when I was interviewed by the lovely author of the Huffington Post article, so you might get a sense of where I might go with that. Stay tuned!
Sleep well. Feel Rested.