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New guy trying to get pain free

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Ozzy, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. Ozzy

    Ozzy New Member

    Hi all,

    I literally burst into tears when I found this forum and read stories of people with symptoms very similar to mine becoming pain free. So thank you for having this here as a resource.

    Three months ago (some say the official timescale for 'chronic pain') I had the most intense pain in my right testicle. It was like I had been hit in the groin but it didn't subside. The pain had grown over three days to become the worst thing I had ever experienced. When I tried to make sense of it I realised that my two-year old daughter had jumped onto my scrotum the day before the pain started to come on. She landed with her full 10kg weight on my testicular area. What is odd is that even now I doubt my own explanation because it took so long for the pain come on badly after she jumped on me. But I told myself sometimes injuries are torn and then only start to hurt later. At the time my daughter jumped on my scrotum I was sat on my sofa exhausted, feeling torn between playing tennis (a compulsive habit I used to feel good) or staying home to prepare for a family holiday that I had organised yet again. In other words - stressed!

    I was embarrassed and scared in case it was something terrible even though I have been monogamous for over a decade so STI seemed unlikely and my physical health is generally excellent.

    I have seen two GPs and two radiologists - the GPs reckoned my daughter's jump on me bruised me, no infection was indicated in urinalysis. The radiologists saw nothing wrong - just small cysts which both they and the GP's said were not implicated in pain and a small varicocele which one radiologist said could cause the pain and be operated on to tie the vein. But I thought "Why kill a vein that is supplying my testicles with blood?!" and subsequent research showed that the procedure did not guarantee pain relief. I have stayed away from pain killers as I'm afraid of dependency or that I might harm myself by having no pain and doing too much exercise. Thankfully I have no problems with urination or ejaculation.

    I am someone who is very aware and very intolerant of pain, a people-pleaser, avoiding conflict, and a high achiever, but find it hard to stay still in case I feel angry or sad. I have a history of doing things for others and I have a history of being afraid I won't be loved if I don't do things that others want.

    Since this pain started I have tried to ignore it, battle on as normal but I am scared to do the things I used to do in case it aggravates the pain - things like tennis, active sex, or running. I am in apparent good health except that prior to this pain coming on I was driving my body hard on the tennis court - playing 5 or 6 times a week and not stopping if I felt tired. I had an injury prone summer. The other thing I had before this pain was occasional bouts of insomnia. One odd thing: the insomnia has disappeared since the pain came along - I am sleeping better than ever (apart from the few nights of intense pain at the beginning of this ordeal).

    I am 41, married with two young kids and I have spent weeks bed-ridden in the hope that rest will cure the pain. It has been difficult as my wife has had to assume nearly all of the child-care. I have my own business so I haven't had to work full time during this ordeal but at times I felt I had to do work to try to get back to normal again. Overall though it has been felt like the worst time of my entire life.

    Last week I broke down, couldn't take any more pain and basically told my wife, kids and employees that they can't count on me to do anything for them. Up until then I was too angry at myself for being a 'cripple failure' to let go of my duties of helping everyone else. After accepting my 'disability' I started to get some relief of pain but still got attention-grabbing levels, pain that grinds me down over the course of a day until I end in tears like a kid wanting the pain to stop.

    I had a few days in these horrible three months where I felt pain-free and I was living fairly normally, exercising and feeling myself again. But it came back. The pain goes away at night so I think an infection highly unlikely as infections I have had before have been round the clock, mostly worse at night if anything.

    But yesterday I saw a video saying pain starts in the brain. I wonder if I am manifesting the pain to avoid the anger and grief of my unjust life - I am exhausted after caring for my parents, and my five siblings starting at the age of 7. I have also been neglected sexually by my wife for a decade which has caused me lots of emotional pain and has been the main dispute in our marriage. This epididymal pain has stopped me caring for other people as I have felt unable to move without pain and scared to move too much in case the pain is worsened. My ego has partly died - I felt lost without being able to do things for others. I felt a failure. But now I feel that if I can be pain free I have somewhat grown out of this old way of behaving. Other people can love me for who I am not what I do for them, and if they don't, well that's up to them.

    Now I just want to be pain free.

    If anyone on this forum can shed light on my situation I would appreciate it. I have started The Divided Mind by Sarno and ordered some more TMS books. I intend to start the Gordon SEP on this website tonight and also to stop treating my condition with anything - I have been through everything - Chinese herbs, homeopathy, nutrition, castor packing, iodine, supplements, etc, etc.

    A few questions:
    Do you think this is TMS? Or do you think it is an injury of the epididymis caused by my daughter?
    Does my fear of this never leaving keep it there?
    What should I do to become pain free?

    Thank you in advance.

    Peace,
    Conor
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2014
  2. tmsandrew

    tmsandrew Peer Supporter

    hiya Conor

    Thanks for taking the time to post your story. Lots of things that you mention in your post suggest that this could actually be TMS - and the fact that you can self-recognise these things seems very positive. I think that TMS usually starts after a "real" injury - that's what makes it so difficult for us to accept that the pain is no longer being caused by the physical condition itself. So it's perfectly likely that the initial stress and injury have now prolonged into you having pain without any injury left. You might not feel like it, but you're very lucky to have found and starting to think about Dr Sarno's methods so quickly - it took me about 3 years!

    The difficulty is in convincing yourself 100% that this is the cause of your pain - as long as your brain has some doubt, then the pain is likely to continue. This is why it's difficult when different specialists give you different advice. But given the situation as presented you either have a choice of fully accepting the TMS method and trying this, or going down the surgical route without clear indication that this will help.

    To try and convince yourself this is TMS, make a journal of the pain over the past few weeks (or days) trying to see when was the pain more/less severe. Then think about what you were doing at that time. Can you see a connection between stress and pain? When you were happy/distracted did the pain subside? Also start to look at the underlying stresses in your life - after all TMS functions as a way of us avoiding these! How can you start to make your unconscious self more happy?

    From everything you've said it sounds like you have everything you already need for full recovery - self awareness and dedication to try the TMS approach. I'm confident that we will be reading your own success story on the forum in the coming weeks :)

    Good luck!
     
    Ellen likes this.
  3. Ozzy

    Ozzy New Member

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your reply. I have started the pain diary. It is showing me that when I do things that enjoy for my own well-being I don't feel pain. When I put myself out for others I get pain. Also when I look for the pain I get pain.

    Today since working on the diary I have improved. My pain is lower than yesterday. I am worrying less about it. I am not feeding it with awareness as much.

    I guess I still have doubts though. I wonder if the body creates the pain to protect an injury from movement and re-injury. I am concerned about going back to exercise even though the best I felt in the last few months was when I was back being more active. The pain returned worse but only days after a spell of gym and Pilates classes.

    From a TMS point of view I wonder if you think that could be the pain intensifying to further distract me?

    I am much more keyed into my underlying emotions now and TMS does make sense. I suppose I am just scared that ignoring a bodily pain could end in worse pain...

    Thanks again, I appreciate your time to read my post.

    Conor
     
  4. tmsandrew

    tmsandrew Peer Supporter

    yes - the pain is a way for your body to distract you from emotions, and so if you start to undermine your body's strategy then it will fight back! The most powerful weapon that our unconscious mind has is our learned response. We very quickly learn from a young age that when something causes pain we need to avoid it. And the greater the pain the greater the learned response. This also leads to heightened awareness and expectation of pain in the same situation in the future. So you now have a strong learned response pushing against going back to the gym. If you listen to this then you may never go back to the gym - the longer you leave it, the greater the threat that this will become in your mind, the greater the expectation of pain. If the pain started again a few days after the gym then the gym has nothing to do with your pain - indeed exercise is (in my opinion) the best way to overcome TMS - it reminds you that you are physically healthy, it releases chemicals that make you feel good, it allows you to enter meditative like states (I used to like doing my exercise whilst keeping a mantra in my head "TMS is real, the pain is just emotional" - said over and over again). You can see why your unconscious mind doesn't want you to do exercise!

    I understand the part about ignoring pain - this to me is the most difficult part of the concept. I would say in general you need to change your mindset - if you are trying to ignore pain then you are still thinking about it. Instead take things slowly - a gradual build up so that you don't have to confront the pain. Start with going to the gym. Go for 5 mins or 10, or 15. Do something easy then relax - buy yourself a beer or a bar of chocolate or whatever it is that you like. You're retraining your brain. Then the next day (and try to do this every day) go to the gym again - suddenly you won't have the same fear response as before - you went yesterday, and it was fine. Do exactly the same - gradually building up time spent.

    This may take a few weeks - but doing it gradually allows you to set markers along the way - "I did 15 minutes at the gym yesterday with no pain - so I'm no longer scared of 15 minutes exercise" etc. etc.

    Hope this helps :)
     
    Ellen likes this.
  5. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    I usually won't DX TMS, since I'm a tennis player and not a doc, but I'll go out on a limb to a fellow tennis player and say YES you've got TMS. Modern medicine is extremely good at DX'ing disease, and your docs didn't find anything structural. So, you're free to pursue the TMS route.

    Keep exercising, DON'T take to bed, I did that once out of frustration and it resulted in "clinical" TMS/depression! The thing that struck me the most was no sex from your wife! You've been able to sublimate that energy through your tennis but now you can't. You gotta' work out that sex thing with the wife, whatever that takes.

    G'luck!
    tt
     
  6. Ozzy

    Ozzy New Member

    Thank you Andrew and Tom for your input - much appreciated. It gives me confidence to keep on this track. But most of all I feel cared for - thanks!

    My pain has reduced greatly in the last 36 hours. Keeping a pain diary showed me that things that are a burden to me create pain while things that I enjoy don't. Previously I didn't include my enjoyment highly in decisions of what to do, now I have to otherwise pain comes!! I am already warming to the idea that the pain symptoms are guiding me to a better way of being kind to myself and my body. Yesterday I actually had times where I felt good in my body again!

    I will go back to exercise - I have already been building up the length of walks I am taking daily and it feels good. I think I have had guilt about how much I enjoy exercise (creating doubts about something I obviously love) and I want to retrain myself to give my body what it needs without pushing it so hard it gets exhausted or has to manifest pain to make me rest.

    Andrew - I like the idea of bringing exercise back gradually to retrain my brain. Also your insight that ignoring the pain is still thinking about it make alot of sense - like saying to someone, "Don't think of the number nine" and what do they think of? I think gradually getting back to tennis would help too but perhaps separating the days from the gym to begin with so I don't get overwhelmed. And being nice to myself after gym is a revelation to me - it was previously back to work for everyone else as soon as gym is over - so I'll try to change that by giving myself a rest and something tasty or thirst-quenching afterwards.

    Tom - you are spot on about tennis sublimating sexual energy - the neglect from my wife meant I felt compelled to do something to make myself feel good. I used to give her the benefit of the doubt and berate myself for being 'too needy'. I didn't want to have an affair because I wanted to honour my commitment to my wife (even though I felt she wasn't fully reciprocating that commitment). The other night I told her how unfair it was, the way she has been treating me. Her usual way is to blame me for her sexual neglect but I wasn't accepting that - I was feeling the anger fully at last. I wasn't even trying to change her, just feeling the anger and letting her know how I felt helped my pain go down.

    On the tennis court I was so hard on myself - a perfectionist playing tennis is really tough as it is full of errors. Also I was such a people-pleaser I couldn't close out games for fear of upsetting opponents. I had a long history of losing tie-breaks or the final game I needed to win a match. All this was just another way to be hard on myself and try to get others to be kind to me. I expect to exhibit different attitudes and expectations to myself when I return to tennis, being kinder to myself and not caring as much about pleasing the opposition. I hope so and maybe I have to if I don't want pain induced while playing!

    Thank you again - the two of you have been so very helpful.

    Peace,

    Conor
     
  7. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Conor. This exchange of posts tells me you're doing great... you're really looking into the reasons why you have pain.
    They are in line with an earlier post by Steve Ozanich. To be sure you get it, I'll attach it here:

    Steve wrote:

    Everyone is stuck in healing, but most people think they're the exception. Take it easy on yourselves, you're doing fine. It's extremely rare that someone would read, understand and heal. It has happened, but it's very very rare--it's abnormal, or Abbie Normal.

    People get stuck for various reasons, I'll try to outline a couple here. The first reason (this is in my opinion from what I'm seeing), is that people "try to heal." I did too, and it set me back. I outlined how I healed in great detail, to not only show how I healed, but to also show the mistakes I made along the way.

    Don't try to heal because that's what your brain wants from you. Remember the reason you have TMS is to make you obsess on your body, to divert your awareness to something other. Stop thinking about body, and refocus on your relationships. Heal the wounds of relationship, or let them go. But you have to let go of the attachments.

    The second reason for being stuck is this thing called "thinking psychologically." I think this has provided more confusion than anything. But in this particular point I'm narrowing in on "finding the reason for anger." You don't have to resolve anything, but it sure helps if you do. People get hung up on searching for the "reason for anger." This is good, but they're missing the point. It's not about trying to see if your divorce, or your mother, or the death of a loved one is causing you TMS. Of course these things are. But that's not the source of the anger. I don't believe those are the things you should be looking for, as causes of rage. You may hit upon one of those and have an ah ha moment and heal. That's all good. But that's not what I would tell someone as the "source of their anger."

    The source is this separation problem. People need to be looking at WHY they are angry, not at WHAT has made them angry. We are enraged because we feel rejected. Our deepest need is to be connected, loved-unconditionally, safe, secure, needed, etc. All the comfy things a child needs in the womb. So when you look for causes of anger don't just focus on events, or situations. Look deeper into why your personality needs so much, why it gets anxious, has a quick temper, needs to be perfect, accepted, etc. These are the reasons for anger you need to be searching for when you think psychologically. The phrase "think psychologically" means to never look at your pain through the body but to peruse your psychological state for any needs for the symptoms. I'm saying, that when you seek these causes, it's ok to look at events, but to look much deeper into yourself and see the true causes.

    It's always the those more basic needs that are unfulfilled that are the cause of TMS. Looking at events in life are the superficial aspect of thinking psychologically, as reasons for anger. Look a level deeper into "why." You will see yourself in a clearer light. The root cause is attachment, or attachment disorder. The personality that forms from separation-anxiety is the reason for your rage, RFYR.

    Another reason for being stuck is that the brain is smart. It seems to have a mind of its own. It catches on quickly that you are catching on to TMS. So it almost always gives people something new to worry about that they feel is "absolutely a real physical thing." But it almost never is. The brain adapts its strategy quickly to give you something "different feeling." Then it has you fooled again, and the focus returns to worry again, and away from seeing yourself in panic, and anger.

    All our problems come down to ego but most people can't seem to see that picture. So we bite off pieces we can swallow by disseminating smaller doses of awareness. If you jump to the ego-consciousness portion the suffering ends. But we can't rid ourselves of ego. So we push on with our minds divided in conflict.

    There are many other mistakes made, some are funny, but that's a good start.

    Steve
     
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  8. Ozzy

    Ozzy New Member

    Thanks Walt - I like the sentence: "People need to be looking at WHY they are angry, not at WHAT has made them angry." I find this means I find a reason for my anger and can be more at home feeling it. Feeling the anger = symptoms going away (for me).

    A quick update - my pain has reduced significantly - I am enjoying long periods of being pain free with minor twinges in between but only when I am stressed or follow a fear thought up. My next step is to be a bit more active which has started already and no problems. I followed Gordon's advice and made an Evidence Sheet and movement does not make it worse.

    I am so happy and relieved to have found Sarno's work and this forum. I don't even have hope - being present with no/massively diminished pain is enough - I no longer have to make a 'better future' that doesn't come then devastates me. I no longer have massive fear of symptoms worsening as I know what they are now.

    Thank you again Andrew, Tom, and Walt.

    Peace,

    Conor
     
  9. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    Conor

    I am happy that you are making these strides on getting pain free, keep up the good work remember its a journey…..PS I also suffer from the same issues with my wife as you do, I was looking at different issues regarding my pain but it just loops me back around to my wife. I also want to stand by my commitment to her but I feel she is not doing the same. I am slowly changing the way I respond to this and yes like you I am not trying to change her.

    God Bless
     
    mike2014 likes this.
  10. Ozzy

    Ozzy New Member

    Hi, today has been mostly pain free. The times I have felt anything it is like an echo or memory of the pain. The transformation in four days is excellent. I went back to the gym today and was gentle. No pain apart from a very slight twinge when I started to tire - I checked in with my body, body was enjoying it and wanted to continue - I continued and twinge disappeared.

    Marco - my way right now is to be angry about the things I am angry about and if the person who is angering me is there letting them know how I feel. I thought it was unconscious rage and grief that were the only things that were producing the pain symptoms but in my case it is fear too. And not feeling fear stops the expression of anger because anger without fear is dangerous. Anger when fear is an allowable experience is safe though. This is a revelation to me and is making me less afraid to be myself, express my concerns, and risk displeasing others. I can feel angry (and fearful if required).

    With withholding of sex from my wife I found once I accepted her anger (as I believe it is unconscious anger that causes her to be hurtful by withholding) then she was more free of it. Withholding of sex in a marriage is like TMS - a distraction from feeling unconscious emotion. It creates arguments, drama, conscious hurt, loads of things that mean the anger isn't felt. Last night my wife felt some of that unconscious anger and things are better between us than they have been for months.

    I had a session of Faster EFT last night and having used many different forms of techniques and therapies can safely say this is one of the most evolved I have come across - shares many parallels with TMS school of thought and very effective in getting to the core of the underlying emotional issues causing the pain symptoms. The stories of clients are similar to that of Sarno's work - chronic pain turning to pain free in a matter of hours or days or weeks. That the medical profession are largely unaware of these highly powerful pain reduction/elimination techniques seems to stem from the fact that you can't manufacture the cure in a factory - it has to be a therapist or one's own emotional experience that produces the cure.

    Thank you again for your amazing support on this forum - I almost cry with joy when I think of it.

    Peace,

    Conor
     
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  11. Ozzy

    Ozzy New Member

    One interesting thing has happened since disappearance of physical pain - the symptom that was there before (insomnia) has reappeared. I am now convinced it is there to distract from the rage and fear of inferiority - insomnia is triggered by an encounter with another man who is better than me at something and I feel competitive then cannot rest as I am wired. The next layer to work on.

    Has anyone else had old symptoms reappear once physical pain of TMS disappeared?
     
  12. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle


    Hi Ozzy,

    I'll reprint an excellent article about SLEEP, pain, fear, depression, insomnia--they all go hand in hand part of the TMS complex. To those who have seen this article many times before please ignore it and forgive me for repeating it so many times but I think it's very helpful for those lying awake at night ruminating about stuff. I now look forward to waking up and getting a good couple of hours of activity in, reading, catching up on the over-filled TV DVR watching archived old tennis matches or car shows, etc. The problem can be when there's someone in bed who's a light sleeper who objects.

    =======================================================================

    The myth of the eight-hour sleep

    Comments (321)
    By Stephanie Hegarty BBC World Service
    [​IMG]

    We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night - but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.
    In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.
    It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.
    Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists.
    In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.
    [​IMG] Roger Ekirch says this 1595 engraving by Jan Saenredam is evidence of activity at night
    His book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern - in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.
    Much like the experience of Wehr's subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.
    "It's not just the number of references - it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge," Ekirch says.
    During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.
    And these hours weren't entirely solitary - people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

    Between segments
    [​IMG]
    Some people:
    • Jog and take photographs
    • Practise yoga
    • Have dinner...
    A 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".
    Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century. This started among the urban upper classes in northern Europe and over the course of the next 200 years filtered down to the rest of Western society.
    By the 1920s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.
    He attributes the initial shift to improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses - which were sometimes open all night. As the night became a place for legitimate activity and as that activity increased, the length of time people could dedicate to rest dwindled.

    When segmented sleep was the norm
    • "He knew this, even in the horror with which he started from his first sleep, and threw up the window to dispel it by the presence of some object, beyond the room, which had not been, as it were, the witness of his dream." Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge (1840)
    • "Don Quixote followed nature, and being satisfied with his first sleep, did not solicit more. As for Sancho, he never wanted a second, for the first lasted him from night to morning." Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote (1615)
    • "And at the wakening of your first sleepe You shall have a hott drinke made, And at the wakening of your next sleepe Your sorrowes will have a slake." Early English ballad, Old Robin of Portingale
    • The Tiv tribe in Nigeria employ the terms "first sleep" and "second sleep" to refer to specific periods of the night
    Source: Roger Ekirch
    In his new book, Evening's Empire, historian Craig Koslofsky puts forward an account of how this happened.
    "Associations with night before the 17th Century were not good," he says. The night was a place populated by people of disrepute - criminals, prostitutes and drunks.
    "Even the wealthy, who could afford candlelight, had better things to spend their money on. There was no prestige or social value associated with staying up all night."
    That changed in the wake of the Reformation and the counter-Reformation. Protestants and Catholics became accustomed to holding secret services at night, during periods of persecution. If earlier the night had belonged to reprobates, now respectable people became accustomed to exploiting the hours of darkness.
    This trend migrated to the social sphere too, but only for those who could afford to live by candlelight. With the advent of street lighting, however, socialising at night began to filter down through the classes.
    In 1667, Paris became the first city in the world to light its streets, using wax candles in glass lamps. It was followed by Lille in the same year and Amsterdam two years later, where a much more efficient oil-powered lamp was developed.
    [​IMG] A small city like Leipzig in central Germany employed 100 men to tend to 700 lamps
    London didn't join their ranks until 1684 but by the end of the century, more than 50 of Europe's major towns and cities were lit at night.
    Night became fashionable and spending hours lying in bed was considered a waste of time.
    "People were becoming increasingly time-conscious and sensitive to efficiency, certainly before the 19th Century," says Roger Ekirch. "But the industrial revolution intensified that attitude by leaps and bounds."
    Strong evidence of this shifting attitude is contained in a medical journal from 1829 which urged parents to force their children out of a pattern of first and second sleep.
    "If no disease or accident there intervene, they will need no further repose than that obtained in their first sleep, which custom will have caused to terminate by itself just at the usual hour.
    "And then, if they turn upon their ear to take a second nap, they will be taught to look upon it as an intemperance not at all redounding to their credit."

    Stages of sleep
    Every 60-100 minutes we go through a cycle of four stages of sleep
    • Stage 1 is a drowsy, relaxed state between being awake and sleeping - breathing slows, muscles relax, heart rate drops
    • Stage 2 is slightly deeper sleep - you may feel awake and this means that, on many nights, you may be asleep and not know it
    • Stage 3 and Stage 4, or Deep Sleep - it is very hard to wake up from Deep Sleep because this is when there is the lowest amount of activity in your body
    • After Deep Sleep, we go back to Stage 2 for a few minutes, and then enter Dream Sleep - also called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep - which, as its name suggests, is when you dream
    In a full sleep cycle, a person goes through all the stages of sleep from one to four, then back down through stages three and two, before entering dream sleep
    Source: Gregg Jacobs
    Today, most people seem to have adapted quite well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body's natural preference for segmented sleep as well as the ubiquity of artificial light.
    This could be the root of a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where people wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep, he suggests.
    The condition first appears in literature at the end of the 19th Century, at the same time as accounts of segmented sleep disappear.
    "For most of evolution we slept a certain way," says sleep psychologist Gregg Jacobs. "Waking up during the night is part of normal human physiology."
    The idea that we must sleep in a consolidated block could be damaging, he says, if it makes people who wake up at night anxious, as this anxiety can itself prohibit sleeps and is likely to seep into waking life too.
    Russell Foster, a professor of circadian [body clock] neuroscience at Oxford, shares this point of view.
    "Many people wake up at night and panic," he says. "I tell them that what they are experiencing is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern."
    But the majority of doctors still fail to acknowledge that a consolidated eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

    More from the Magazine
    [​IMG]
    • Margaret Thatcher was famously said to get by on four hours sleep a night
    • That put her in a group of just 1% of the population
    "Over 30% of the medical problems that doctors are faced with stem directly or indirectly from sleep. But sleep has been ignored in medical training and there are very few centres where sleep is studied," he says.
    Jacobs suggests that the waking period between sleeps, when people were forced into periods of rest and relaxation, could have played an important part in the human capacity to regulate stress naturally.
    In many historic accounts, Ekirch found that people used the time to meditate on their dreams.
    "Today we spend less time doing those things," says Dr Jacobs. "It's not a coincidence that, in modern life, the number of people who report anxiety, stress, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse has gone up."
    So the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, think of your pre-industrial ancestors and relax. Lying awake could be good for you.
    Craig Koslofsky and Russell Foster appeared on The Forum from the BBC World Service. Listen to the programme here.
    Do you sleep in segments? Send us your sleep stories.
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
    Tennis Tom, May 22, 2014Report
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