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Scientists have conducted a number of studies that suggest the traditional eight hour sleep pattern that humans have grown used to is both unnatural and unhealth
In 1992, a team of psychiatrists headed by Thomas Wehr performed an experimentwhere subjects were plunged into darkness for 14-hours every day for one month.
By the fourth week, each subject had settled into a distinct sleeping pattern in which they slept for 4 hours, and then woke for 1-3 hours, and then slept for a another 4 hours.
In another study Wehr also found that while awake for this 1-3 hour period the brains of participants produced a higher level of prolactin, which is a hormone that reduces stress and relaxes the body after an orgasm.
In 2001 historian Roger Ekirch published a paper which showed mounting historical evidence that it was common practice that we would sleep in a similar pattern to the findings of Wehr.
In his book- “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past” Ekirch provides more than 500 references taken from diaries, medical books, literature and court records. And has cross cultural references from the ancient greeks to accounts taken from modern tribes in Nigeria.
“It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,” Ekirch says.
Ekirch discovered that some time during the late 17th Century references to this type of sleep pattern started to disappear and by the 1920s the idea had been entirely removed society.