Getting your best sleep routine down pat is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. But what makes sleep good? In fact, what you commonly accept to be true about sleep is likely not true at all. Find out what’s wrong with modern sleep habits and how your ancestors slept.
Today’s Sleeping Rituals
Think about your sleep ritual. You likely think about when you have to wake up to have a comfortable start to the day, figure out a period of time that is seven to nine hours before that time, and go to sleep at some point in that timeframe.
You may or may not wake up during the night; if you do, you likely have difficulty getting back to sleep. Your alarm clock goes off in the morning, you go about your day, and repeat. If you are like most adults, you likely feel exhausted by the end of the week and try to catch up on sleep over the weekend.
How Our Ancestors Slept
Did you ever wonder why you are still so sleepy much of the time if you seem to get enough sleep at night? It may be because today’s sleep habits are unnatural.
In the past, a person’s daily sleep occurred over the course of 12 hours. You would go to sleep early, sleep for three to six hours, and let your body wake up naturally in the middle of the night. At that point, you would stay awake for a couple hours until you started to feel sleepy again. You would then return to bed and sleep for the rest of the night.
This is called a bi-modal sleep pattern. With of the advent of electric lights and street lighting, this slowly fell out of fashion, leading to the sleep hours people maintain today.
Making This Routine Work for You
If you struggle to stay awake during the day or you find yourself waking up at night, it’s likely that your body is naturally designed for a bi-modal sleep pattern. It may be difficult to get into this pattern, especially if you have to be awake at a specific time in the morning to go to school, work, or take care of children.
However, making tweaks to your schedule and sleep routine can help you figure out if this is the right sleep pattern for you.Instead of staying up until the last possible minute, give yourself a few extra hours at the start of the night. Keep in mind that you should get two to three hours of wakefulness to attend to hobbies or tasks in the middle of the night.
Help your body learn to fall asleep at such an early hour by getting rid of lights, turning off screens, playing soothing music, or meditating. Though you may sleep through the night for a little bit, you can quickly find yourself waking in the middle of the night naturally. You can then adjust your sleep and wake times accordingly.
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