Most of us believe that sleep problems are a consequence of modern life, but lack of sleep was typical of our ancestors too.
Even if people nowadays put the blame on the hustle and bustle of modern life for their lack of sleep, a new study based on 3 actual preindustrial societies revealed that our ancestors would sleep approximately the same number of hours as we sleep nowadays.
Members of the Hazda, San and Tsimane populations would sleep from 5.7 hours to 7.1 hours per night. So, they don’t sleep more than modern humans.
People often put the blame on modern technologies that wouldn’t let them sleep, such as artificial life or the Internet. But studies show that people living without such things don’t sleep more.
Making observations on our ancestors’ sleeping habits would have been impossible, so researchers made some observations based on three groups of people that weren’t touched by technological development.
Two of the groups live in Africa. Hazda people live in Tanzania. They obtain their food by means of hunting and gathering. The Sun group lives in Namibia and their way of obtaining food resembles that of Hazda people. The Tsimane people live in Bolivia and are hunter-horticulturalists.
In spite of the fact that these people don’t have access to medical care and drugs, they often reach the age of 60 and even 80. That surely means that the lack of sleep doesn’t have any negative effects upon them.
The researchers monitored some volunteers by using some watches attached to their hands. They could observe that people from the three groups wouldn’t sleep more than 6 hours per night.
“Our findings indicate that sleep in industrial societies has not been reduced below a level that is normal for most of our species’ evolutionary history,” the researchers declared.
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