It’s no secret that people aren’t getting enough sleep. We don’t have time, we can’t switch off and we’re all sure that the scientists are wrong when they say that on average we require eight hours a night.
So with all of that in mind, it’s time to meet the new rest technique that’s sweeping the globe: segmented sleep. An idea that sees you splitting your evening’s rest into two parts and having an awake period (known to the French as dorveille) in between.
Could sleeping twice a night be the solution to waking up well rested? Source: iStock.
Saying that it's new is actually pretty misleading, as segmented sleep is a very old, very traditional way of giving your body some time out, but somehow we're only just rediscovering it now.
According to research, the practise of segmented sleep was the norm for hundreds of years. People would sleep after their evening meal, then pray, read, have sex or visit friends during the "wake sleep" or dorveille period, all before returning to bed for a second sleep.
So why did this trend fall out of favour? It's still not definitively clear, but one theory is that Thomas Edison's invention of the lightbulb in the late 1800s lead to people wanting and being able to stay awake for longer.
Over the past 150 years scientists have dedicated their lives to studying and trying to unlock "the secret" behind successful sleeping. Diet, exercise, temperature, pillows, scent, Apps, an absence of devices... we've heard and read about all of the theories imaginable.
But there's one finding that's almost always had consensus, and that's that humans need approximately eight hours of meaningful sleep per day.
Yet despite knowing this, we seem determined to cheat science and work out ways to operate successfully on less (love you coffee).
The very real repercussions of not getting enough sleep. Source: iStock.
But the practice of sleep segmenting essentially recommends that we sleep the way newborns do. An early evening bedtime following a hearty meal, a brief awake period during the middle of the night and then another solid chunk of sleep before starting the day.
Eat at 6.30, sleep at 8, wake at might night, sleep at 2, start the day at 6am. Easy, right?
Well, not really. Can you imagine trying to meet friends for dinner and be home in bed by 8pm? Or commute home, make dinner and be fully settled and switched off by 7.30pm? No, neither can we.