I don't generally have a segmented sleeping pattern. Instead, I fall fast asleep most nights and don't get up until my alarm goes off the next morning, about seven hours later. If I'm feeling really run down, I'll sleep between eight and ten hours on the weekends.
Research suggests that a bo-modal sleeping pattern is more natural, and I'm wondering how to help bring this type of pattern about. For those who do have a segmented sleeping pattern, do you have any tips? How much have blue-light filters and going to bed earlier helped? Or, is it more a matter of forming the habit (i.e. set an alarm in the middle of the night to break up your sleep)?
There's definitely no reason to wake yourself up in the middle of the night on purpose. I earnestly advise against setting an alarm clock for 1am just so you can get segmented sleep.
It can occur naturally if you are getting a good amount (read 8-10) hours of sleep time in a dark environment. Turning off TV and other electronics an hour before bed helps too.
Don't force it assuming it's required.
If you want to really play with it, it will come naturally if you give up lighting your house and watching tv/staring at a computer after dark. You'll fall asleep really early, and then will wake naturally for a few hours in the middle of the night, and then get sleepy and finish the night out.
Do not under any circumstances turn lights on in the middle of the night though if you are doing this or your circadian rhythms will get all sorts of whacked out and your brain will say, "Good morning!" That time is for pondering life, staring at the stars, and enjoying your bed mate if they happen to be awake too.
Read this about how you really should interpret the bi-modal sleep results from the research:
2 weeks ago after looking at the Zeo Sleep Age page: http://www.myzeo.com/sleep/sleepage I guessed that perhaps I was automatically waking up after my last REM.
Generally I feel terrible every morning when I get out of bed around 7:30 woken by my alarm, and after dozing off after automatically waking up around 6:00. So I set my alarm for 6:30 and like magic I not only wake up a few minutes before my alarm but I now get out of bed feeling refreshed.
This is awesome since basically I think I have just learnt to do what the Zeo Sleep Manager would have told me/helped me to do. That is to wake up after the earliest sensible last REM cycle and thus not slip into my next REM cycle, only to have it broken by the alarm leaving me feeling very groggy. Saved me $150.00!
So basically if you are someone who wakes up automatically between the hours of 4:00 and 07:00 then I would say note what time you wake and then set your alarm to go off just after that time. You may be waking just after your REM; and having your alarm go off after rather than during and breaking the following REM cycle may make you feel a lot more refreshed.
I would say getting up before 4:00 may not feel so great if you go to bed around 23:00. I am still playing with this all but I can honestly say I have been surprised by simply just getting up when my body wakes me up at 6:00, rather then heading back into a dream.
I've been a segmented sleeper my whole life, and there are a few things I do differently than most people. For one, I've never had much tolerance for heavy curtains and unnaturally dark rooms. I have "light-filtering" mini blinds and sheer curtains that give me privacy, but don't block much light. While it was never a conscious choice, I feel like the natural light has done a lot to keep my circadian rhythms tuned to a more evolutionary normal.
Another thing is that I don't fight it. I go to bed when I'm sleepy. When I wake up in the middle of the night I don't panic - I know I'll be comfortably out again in a couple of hours and I'm not going to wake up tired. I spend my wakeful time doing relaxing, pleasant things.
To give you an idea of my regular sleep schedule, I'm typically ready to zonk out by 10, and I'm asleep within just a few minutes of my head hitting the pillow. I usually wake up from my first sleep around 2, get up, go to the bathroom, maybe have a glass of water or an apple, and settle back into bed to read a book, check the news, or just relax and think about my day. Second sleep usually comes around 3 or 4 (recognize when you get sleepy again and don't fight it), and from there I sleep until around 7. I'm never tired, even when getting less than 8 hours of sleep. It's really all about listening to your body and trusting it to do what it needs.
What's 'natural' for you, is how you tend to sleep when you are getting enough hours of sleep in good conditions (dark quiet room, no tv right before bed, etc).
I usually wake often during the night for less than 10 minutes, but I've never been a bi-modal sleeper. Even when my parents forced me to lie in a dark room, sleeping or not, from 7pm or 8pm onward, every night (they were very strict about it until I was 11 or 12) - never did I wake up during the middle of the night for an extended period of time. I don't tend to be an easy waker in general; I sleep through violent storms and any number of crazy noises, and have to force myself up in stages in the morning. On the other hand my ex-BF has woken up for an hour or two between 2 and 5 his whole life. He is also a very easy/natural waker and easily startled. Maybe this has something to do with sleep style, who knows.
The sleep pattern requires about 10 hours sleeping time. This would be ideally from 7-8pm to 5-6am, with a 1-2 hours break in between. Obviously nothing would be forced. You just prepare yourself for bed with no lighting at 7pm, and go with the flow.
Question is can you leave aside so much time for sleep. You could do some light reading during the break hours. But it cannot be something that is engrossing, so not really productive work. It should make you more productive during work hours though.
Nice to see that biphasic (or segmented) sleep has hit mainstream news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783
My husband & I found ourselves naturally doing this. We wake up around the same time to pee & then cuddle & talk for an hour or so. We've had some really great discussions at 3am!
I agree that if you sleep through the night, there is no need to wake yourself up!
I wonder if this is a natural pattern for older folk (I'm 49 & my husband is 55). I used to sleep through the night when I was younger, simply because I didn't get up to pee...
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