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Never get eight hours' sleep? Come share a (knackered) sigh of relief: apparently, it's perfectly natural

(26 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 10-Apr-13 10:26:34


We just spotted this truly eye-opening BBC story about sleep and, as sleep is a bit of a hot topic (and much-missed state) on MN, we thought we'd share it with you.

Apparently, sleeping for eight hours is unnatural, and 'segmented sleep' - sleeping for a bit, waking up for a bit, then sleeping for a bit more - is much more normal and, in times past, was the accepted norm.

So, basically, lying awake could actually be good for you.

Oh, and fabulous quote from the BBC story: 'one doctor's manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day's labour but "after the first sleep", when "they have more enjoyment" and "do it better".' shock

So, what's your view? How much sleep do you reckon you get on an average night? Do you worry about not getting enough sleep - and does this story reassure you? Or do you still yearn for the blessed relief of a full eight-hour stretch? Please do tell...

CMOTDibbler Wed 10-Apr-13 10:36:06

I normally go to bed at 10 and asleep by 10.30, and the alarm goes off at 6.45. But I'm permanently knackered - its not that ds wakes me, but chronic pain disturbs my sleep and also there is never a chance to sleep as much as I want.

gazzalw Wed 10-Apr-13 10:39:56

I tend to get uninterrupted sleep but DW is a terrible one for going off to sleep really quickly but waking up during the night - she was only saying the other day that she couldn't remember the last time she slept right through the night.... but maybe we need to all revise our sleep patterns and not be moaning if we're awake for some of the time...?

All I know is that when we gave up alcohol in January we were much better rested.....

amazinglightshow Wed 10-Apr-13 10:41:01

I read this article but I'm not convinced it will make me feel better!

I was woken by a noise last night and couldn't get back to sleep. Lay awake for almost 3 hours tossing and turning. Fell asleep near dawn and slept in angry

This being awake at night happens quite regularly and I always feel crap after it. On the other hand, anytime I've slept 7+ hours in a row, I feel great. Recently I slept 9 hours in a row and I could have run up a mountain.

I think at this stage we're culturally programmed to expect a long stretch of sleep at night, and our bodies crave it.
I read an interesting article somewhere - can't remember the source - that claimed that there was a huge problem with sleeping pill addiction in middle-aged women in America. Women's sleep patterns, apparently, are so broken from doing all of the usual mother-stuff - tending, feeding, worrying - in their earlier years that their sleep never repairs.


Pascha Wed 10-Apr-13 10:42:03

Oh how I long for four hours worth of uninterrupted sleep. Three would be ok really...

amazinglightshow Wed 10-Apr-13 10:42:48

gazza - totally agree about the not drinking making for better quality of sleep. I am also at the stage where a caffeinated beverage too late in the day has me wired in the middle of the night. It never used to affect me before - getting old, I suppose!

phantomhairpuller Wed 10-Apr-13 10:44:08

Uninterrupted sleep?! I've forgotten what that feels like wink

MissFredi Wed 10-Apr-13 11:55:45

Like most of the posters before me I keep waking up in the middle of the night, but as far as OH and I can tell there's nothing actually causing it, except sometimes I'm incredibly hungry. Would be nice to sleep through the night, considering I know young children who can manage it! hmm

Tee2072 Wed 10-Apr-13 12:01:26

When I get an uninterrupted night (between my brain and my chronic pain, a rare thing) I feel fantastic.

But I have also felt fantastic after interrupted nights when I've managed to fall back to sleep fairly quickly.

So I'm firmly on the fence... grin

JumpHerWho Wed 10-Apr-13 12:35:55

I have a toddler who sleeps 12/13 hours every single night, and has done since he was about 3 months old.

I feel guilty when I chat to other mums in real life about how awful sleep deprivation is.

On MN I just feel smug smile

Fully aware that if we have a second child he/she will be a terrible sleeper

I think a major thing which isn't mentioned in the article is the nature of full-time work outside the home and how it affects relaxation. If you're out and unable to rest between say 7.30 and 7pm, how can you rest and sleep any other way?

Personally I have no sleep problems and once asleep, only wake if I need a pee, so am quite a fan of the 8hr thing, I slept 9hrs last night and feel great today.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Wed 10-Apr-13 12:54:29

I am just back in the realms of getting 8 hours sleep as my nearly 2 year old is finally sleeping through the night most nights. I feel amazing!

I've never had problems with night waking (except when the kids wake me!), but I do take a while to get to sleep at night. I find my mind ticks over too much. Whereas my husband regularly gets into bed saying 'I'm tired but just not sleepy' and is asleep in 60 seconds. I follow a strict 'no coffee after lunch' policy these days and also try to stop using the computer and tv and read a book or something for a few minutes before bed, both of which help.

Arisbottle Wed 10-Apr-13 13:08:29

For as long as I can tend never during the week I have never had more than five hours sleep. It is the reality for many working couples with family commitments who don't have paid help .

Towards the end of a term I get knackered and grumpy but generally cope.

flamingtoaster Wed 10-Apr-13 13:28:07

I used to sleep through the night without any trouble - until I had children. Even when they started sleeping through I couldn't get back to not waking up during the night - I just put classicfm on and find I usually drift off quite quickly unless I'm really worrying about something. I'd prefer to sleep through - but I don't stress about waking up in the middle of the night. The article is reassuring.

Angelico Wed 10-Apr-13 13:33:43

I'm a natural night owl but have never had a problem sleeping. Problem is now we have DD her day starts earlier than I would like and she does still wake for a night feed.

I would love to go away somewhere ON completely alone and just sleep for about 10 hours grin In fact I have a business trip coming up when I will be able to do just that - oh joy! grin

TumbleWeeds Wed 10-Apr-13 13:38:11

But surely the issue isn't whether you wake up in the middle of the night and go back to sleep after a while. It's whether you have slept enough to be refreshed in the morning?

The idea that it's normal to have a 'broken' sleep isn't a new one. And knowing it is normal for some people helps avoiding feeling very annoyed when you can't sleep in the middle of the night.
But if this means that you are knackered in the am when you aren't if you sleep through then surely it IS an issue then?

TumbleWeeds Wed 10-Apr-13 13:40:09

Arisbottle 5 hours?!? how on earth do you manage with so little sleep?

I get at least 8 hours a night and some day I do need 10 hours shock

Arisbottle Wed 10-Apr-13 13:43:03

I guess if that is the life you face chosen you have to just cope .

I only have to manage it for six or seven weeks at a time and the get a break .

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Wed 10-Apr-13 13:44:01

I have not really had a 4 hr stretch for about 8 months now (DD is 8 months old grin) and I probably average 6 hrs a night in total in 2 or 3 chunks. Weirdly I actually don't feel tired. I do drink a lot of coffee though and I work, so maybe that keeps me awake as it's busy and they have the aircon on too high- if you fell asleep you'd get hypothermia and die.

TaggieCampbellBlack Wed 10-Apr-13 13:59:20

Perfect justification for an afternoon nap thanks

I work 13 hour shifts. 2 weeks nights. 2 weeks days. 3 shifts a week. Not in a row. My body clock is completely shagged. Add into that a knackered back that hurts and wakes me up every time i turn over I rarely get more than a few hours unbroken.

I am tired. And having a nap.

kinkyfuckery Wed 10-Apr-13 14:03:45

I probably average around 5-6 hours sleep a night, but even that is disturbed by

a) chronic pain
b) a child with SN
c) sharing a bedroom with a snoring, sleeptalking child who still climbs into bed with me most nights

neriberi Wed 10-Apr-13 15:43:12

I get about 4, maybe 5 hours of sleep if I'm lucky. I go to bed around 10ish and then from about 1am onwards my DS starts waking every few hours. Then 5:30am hits and I'm getting up for work.

I'm not a very good sleeper, it takes an age to fall asleep because I struggle to switch my brain off, then when I do fall asleep my DH will disturb me with his snoring and then my DS starts his waking up routine.

fanoftheinvisibleman Wed 10-Apr-13 16:15:10

We go to bed between midnight ans half past and in the week the alarm goes off at 6am. But within the short space of time I am actually in bed I also suffer feom insomnia! It is not uncommon for me to be awake a couple of hours at either end of the night.

I function fairly well on anything about 3-4 hours. I feel the pain below that and anything less the 4 hours for more than a couple of nights shows too. But an the whole I just don't think I need much.

The biggesy irony is that ds has always been a good sleeper!

fanoftheinvisibleman Wed 10-Apr-13 16:16:20

Exhaustion possibly affects my typing ability though grin

Jux Wed 10-Apr-13 18:58:54

DH found this story a while ago.

I am interested in why this is not reflected in literature of the times when it was considered normal.

I am also interested in what happens with the (what was considered all-important) sleep states, particularly those which happen later in the sleep cycle.

Have you looked at the Wiki entry on Polyphasic sleep?

TumbleWeeds Thu 11-Apr-13 08:44:01

Agree what this story is saying isn't that we don't need 8 hours sleep but that these 8 hours can be intercepted with a time awake.
Nothing to do with sleeping 4 or 5 hours per night, every night which must have some effect on the sleep cycle. And the lack of deep sleep has been proven to affect your health.

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