Previously, people slept twice a day - and for us this is the norm

The massive shift to telecommuting due to the pandemic has brought renewed attention to how people should organize their work hours for maximum efficiency. If you don't need to get to work, you can work in your home pajamas and eat breakfast in a hurry - why not spend the freed up couple of hours a day sleeping? The idea is reasonable, only experts advise a biphasic scheme, when it is proposed to sleep in two phases during the day.

Until the beginning of industrialization, the emergence of efficient urban lighting and the transfer of staff to work on a strict schedule, Europe lived exactly on a biphasic sleep pattern. This is described in both literary and scientific works - people got tired during the day and went to bed immediately after sunset, woke up a few hours later, stayed awake for an hour or two, and then slept until dawn. In the period between bedtime, one could do handicrafts or cleaning, think over plans for tomorrow, sex was very popular.

Biphasic sleep is relevant today for preschool children and cultures that practice siesta. In the 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment on living in a short day of light, when there are 14 hours of darkness and only 8 light in a day. All subjects developed a distinct two-phase sleep pattern by the fourth week of observation. Namely 4 hours of sleep, 1-3 hours of wakefulness, again 4 hours of rest. From which it was concluded that this scheme has a biological basis, it is natural for our body.

The main difficulty in switching to biphasic sleep is in the established practice, when the employee is required to be active for a long period of 8-12 hours in a row. Work schedules have nothing to do with circadian rhythms, and employees often do not have the ability to synchronize them. There are also problems with prolonged 8-hour sleep, for example, in developed Australia, a third of all adults suffer from insomnia. It would be much more effective to have two periods of wakefulness during the day, with the opportunity to sleep twice in between and gain strength.