Sleeping twice a day increases alertness and allows greater flexibility according to researchers. Sleeping for 8 hours is a modern concept and sleeping twice a day used to be normal.
Melinda Jackson is a psychologist specialising in sleep disorders at Australia’s RMIT University and Siobhan Banks is a senior researcher at the Centre for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia. They said split sleeping used to be normal, and going to bed for a continuous eight hours is a modern concept.
From medical texts to court records and diaries, throughout history, there have been accounts of segmented sleep – and such patterns are seen today in cultures who take a siesta, researchers said. Sleeping twice a day may reduce the instances of insomnia, increase alertness during the day and provide people with more flexibility to carry out work and spend time with their family, they said.
Researchers quoted a passage from the 1840 Charles Dickens novel “Barnaby Rudge” where a character refers to his “first sleep” — which presumably came before losing limbs to dangerous factory machinery and inhaling soot — and then taking a second nap.
Research has proven that it suits our body clocks better. In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted a month-long experiment where a group of people were left in darkness for 14 hours each day, instead of the standard eight hours. By the fourth week, a new two-phase sleep pattern had emerged. Participants would sleep for four hours, wake for one to three hours, then fall back to sleep for four hours. Thomas Wehr concluded that people were better suited to a split sleep pattern.
Nap rooms are becoming more common in few offices in the US. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington has also championed the cause of workplace napping. “Sleep makes us more productive, creative, less stressed and much healthier and happier,” “Even a 20-minute nap in the middle of the day can make a huge difference. I grew up thinking that if you work around the clock, you are going to be more effective, and I realise that is not true.”