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Sleeping All Night May Not Be Normal

October 15, 2012
Plain English Version

Researchers are finding that eight hours of sleep may not be the best way to spend the night.

In the past, it was common for periods of sleep to be broken into segments. Before electricity and the modern age, people went to sleep earlier.  They slept for three or four hours, got up for a few hours and went back to bed.

While they were up at night, people thought a lot and said it was a time for them to do their best thinking.  They sometimes used the period to make love.

Researchers are also talking about periods of “deep sleep.” It is a sleep in which the body most refreshes itself. It is different than a period of dreaming, called “rapid eyeball movement” (REM). When you are in REM, the brain is as active as it is during the day.

There is also good news about naps. Naps as short as 24 minutes can include up to 24 minutes of deep sleep. Researchers find that workers are more alert and better able to solve problems after taking naps.

It might be a good idea for workers to ask for nap breaks rather than coffee breaks.

The New York Times

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