Our Ancestors Lacked Sleep Too (You & Your Health)

A new study claims our ancestors didn’t get enough sleep either. The report, in Current Biology, is challenging the widely-held belief that we are wired to get eight hours of shut eye every night.

From the Washington Post:

Modern life’s sleep troubles — the chronic bleary-eyed state that many of us live in — have long been blamed on our industrial society. The city lights, long work hours, commutes, caffeine, the Internet. When talking about the miserable state of our ability to get enough rest, sleep researchers have had a tendency to hark back to a simpler time when humans were able to fully recharge by sleeping and waking to the rhythms of the sun.

It turns out that may not be quite right. In fact, it now appears that our ancestors may not have been getting the doctor-recommended eight hours of sleep, either.

Researchers studied three different “modern” hunter-gatherer groups in Africa and South America. Those groups are cut off from electricity and other ‘current-day’ distractions, and are believed to experience the same sort of natural sleep ancient humans enjoyed more than 10,000 years ago.

According to Discovery News – “people in traditional societies slumber an average of 6.5 hours per night. That’s in line with the amount of sleep the typical American gets, around 6.8 hours per night, according to a Gallup poll released in 2013. The hunter-gatherers also don’t nap regularly, so they’re certainly not catching up on hours lost overnight.”

PBS News Hour put together a brief video on the story which you can watch by clicking here or below.


NPR.com pointed out that unlike many people in the United States or Europe who sleep less than seven hours per night, the hunter-gatherers tend to be very healthy. “There’s virtually no obesity, many have very long lives, and nearly everyone in these societies does not have trouble sleeping.”

Interesting twist that questions some of our beliefs about sleep. What do you think about this new report? Try to let us know before you take that nap!



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