Is it unhealthy to wake up in the middle of sleep to do some work and get back to sleep quickly?

By | May 10, 2022

Not only is it not unhealthy, but that’s how we are supposed to sleep. The notion that we are to stay in bed 8 hours at a time was invented and popularized at the end of the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution and is not based on actual scientific research about how our species rests at night.

  • When we were hunter-gatherers, we had to keep our fire alight at night to scare off wild animals. Therefore, for hundreds of thousands of years, we woke up in the middle of the night.
  • There is a great deal of literary, pre-industrial evidence that people slept twice a night. In some languages ​​in medieval texts, there were even different names for each phase of such sleep.
  • Furthermore, the elderly are even more active at night. In the past, they tended to the fire while the younger members of their hunting and gathering tribes were busy gathering food during the day. Less need for sleep and waking up more often and for longer at night in old age is not a bug, but a feature in our species.

The notion that we have to sleep 8 hours a day at once at night is wrong and does a lot of harm to people who want to achieve that perfect sleep by adhering to this refuted 19th-century idea. This can sometimes lead to the overuse of caffeine or alcohol to regulate sleep. All of this can further increase the severity of our bedtime problems as it is really a struggle with our true nature.

However, it would be beneficial for the health of many individuals to avoid eating during these natural sleep breaks. It would be better to find something else to do then, as eating at night can lead to excessive weight gain.

The question was: Is it unhealthy to wake up in the middle of sleep to do some work and get back to sleep quickly?

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