Some Hunter Gatherers Sleep Less than City Dwellers

Although most of us believe that the glowing lights of smartphones and our modern life filled with high-tech amenities are responsible for reducing our ability to get enough sleep, scientists have now found that modern-day people are not sleeping less than their prehistoric ancestors.

During the study offering the above conclusion, researchers looked at people who are part of three hunter-gatherer societies of rural areas of South America and Africa. Their investigations revealed that on average these traditional people get to sleep for a little less than 6.5 hours every night. In comparison, individuals living in the modern industrial societies mostly sleep for 7 to 8 hours every night on average.

Jerome Siegel, the senior author of the study, said that the study has shown that contrary to the popular belief, it’s very likely that modern-day people don’t sleep less than their distant human ancestors.

However, the study also revealed that insomnia was probably less common in the ancient world than what it’s now. This revelation indicates that it’s possible to come up with fresh ways of treating insomnia by looking at prehistoric human civilizations. Recently obtained statistics suggest that more than 20% people in the US suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives.

We often hear people complaining that different features of modern life are stopping them from sleeping enough. Earlier studies conducted on captive animals provided the researchers with an idea to study sleep in humans.

Siegel informed that after recording sleeping habits of wild African elephants and discovering that their sleep pattern was much different than that of the zoo elephants he understood that it would be a good idea to compare sleep patterns of humans living in modern societies and hunter-gatherer societies.

For gathering more information about sleeping habits of people before the arrival of the modern era, researchers under Siegel analyzed sleeping patterns of a total of 94 members of three hunter-gatherer tribes, Hadza from Tanzania, Tsimane from Bolivia and San from Namibia. Siegel said that the research proved pretty challenging at times as the roads leading to the villages were not suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles.

The life of these people is still significantly similar to the life of ancient humans. This enabled the scientists to conclude that the sleeping habits of those people reflect ancient human behavior.