Think you don’t get much sleep? Check this out
Do you sleep badly? Don’t be too quick to blame the screens that form part of modern life. Researchers have analysed the sleep of people who live in remote rural areas in Africa and South America, comparing it with how westerners sleep. These people sleep for an average of just under 6.5 hours a night. By way of comparison, sleep in industrialised societies is generally 7-8 hours a night. “We find that contrary to much conventional wisdom, it’s likely that we do not sleep less than our distant ancestors,” says the main author of study, Jerome Siegel, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles. It would seem that, despite smartphones and ever-present screens, we don’t stay awake longer now than in prehistoric times.
To arrive at this conclusion the researchers looked at the sleeping habits of various hunter-gatherer societies in Tanzania, Namibia and Bolivia. The researchers believe that the sleeping habits of these societies reflect prehistoric human behavior. They also noted that despite the differences in their history and in their environment, all these people had similar sleeping habits.
The researchers also noted that insomnia was more of a rare occurrence in the past than it is now. It currently affects 20% of people in the US at some point in their lives. The study revealed that it only affects 1.5-2.5% of huntergatherers more than once a year. Jerome Siegel says that these peoples in general went to sleep just over three hours after sunset. In the evening, they prepared the meal, they ate, and they made plans for the next day. They woke up before sunrise.
Contrary to much conventional wisdom, it is very likely that we do not sleep less than our distant ancestors