Humans have also historically slept in shifts to switch off monitoring for danger or threats.
This type of sleep schedule fell out of fashion with the invention of electricity, which allowed for longer working hours and altered our schedules to one long chunk of sleep each night.
Some people have tried a biphasic model in modern times in an attempt to boost productivity, like Craig Benzine, who tried sleeping in two shifts for over two months.
He reported noticing benefits while following this schedule, noting that he was able to get a bit of work done in between both periods of sleep since no one was around to distract him.
He also noticed deeper sleep, more vivid dreams, and feeling more rested overall. That said, many factors play a role in the type of sleep schedule each individual should follow.
As we discussed earlier, sleep isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Believe it or not, the amount of sleep you need and the schedule most beneficial to receive it depends on your genetic makeup.
Genetics of Sleep
If you suffer from insomnia, it may have been passed down from your parents. Your genetics determine how many hours of sleep you need every night.
In fact, your genes play a role in how long you need to sleep each night, what time you prefer to sleep, and how sleep deprivation affects your body and mind.
For example, one genetic mutation called the “short sleep” genecauses those who have it to be able to get by with only six hours of sleep each night.
Research shows that those without this mutation need eight hours on average, for comparison.
Other genes determined that some people are more adversely affected by a lack of sleep than others, while some people may sleep deeper compared to those who sleep lighter.
This brings truth to the phrase “light” or “heavy” sleeper!
Since your genetic makeup isn’t something you can alter, it’s important to pay attention to how you feel to decide whether you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing astoo muchsleep.
The Dangers of Oversleeping
We’ve already touched on the dangers of sleep deprivation, but what about the risks of sleeping too much?
Your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and even death increase if you sleep more than nine hours per night regularly.
Many people oversleep if they didn’t get enough rest the night before, or they wait until the weekend to repay their sleep “debt.”
As a result, the risk of developing sleep disorders like sleep apnea rises.
That’s why it’s vital to listen to your body and improve your sleep quality by finding the proper amount of sleep for you.
Think “The Three Bears” here: you don’t want too much or too little. It needs to be just right.
So where should you start? Research from the Huberman Lab offers sleep guidelines that anyone can apply.
Huberman Lab Sleep Recommendations
Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist and professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
He is responsible for developing tools that are now used by the military to optimize performance in stressful environments, enhance neuroplasticity, and improve sleep.
Work from the Huberman Lab has been published in top scientific journals. In 2021, the Huberman Lab podcast was launched to further spread Huberman Lab Sleep and health recommendations discovered through research.
In an episode with Dr. Matt Walker, the two doctors discussed the various stages of sleep, the dangers of sleep deprivation, and the biology of sleep.
The two also discussed their recommendations for improving sleep based on actionable tools and tips supported by scientific research, including:
Get at least ten minutes of sunlight within the first 30 minutes to one hour upon waking to reset your circadian rhythm. Then, get more sun in the late afternoon before sunset.
Wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day, even on the weekend, and implement a nighttime routine you can follow every evening. This keeps your internal clock in check.
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Avoid drinking caffeine within eight to ten hours of bedtime. Caffeine has a longer half-life than you may think, blocking the adenosine receptors in the brain and keeping us from feeling tired.
Avoid bright artificial light, including blue light from digital devices, between 10 PM and 4 AM. This light tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime when it’s actually nighttime. Blue light glasses may block some artificial light, while candlelight and moonlight won’t throw off your internal clock.
Limit daytime naps to less than 90 minutes to avoid throwing off your sleep schedule. Avoid taking naps after 4 PM.