A new study suggests we may not need those 7-8 hours of sleep recommended by so many doctors and health experts. Sleep researchers at the University of California believe that our ancestors didn’t get that amount of sleep and they still managed to stay fit and healthy.
Past studies showed that the backlight from our handsets and other electronic devices prevent us from getting enough sleep at night and even mess up our body’s natural circadian rhythms.
But the recent study shows that three tribes that led a very similar life to our hunter-gatherer ancestors do not get the recommended daily amount of sleep although they lack our modern distractions.
Study authors said that in those tribes people slept less than 6.5 hours per night, while official recommendations aim at 7-8 hours per night. Jerome Siegel, lead author of the study, concluded that we do not get less sleep than our ancestors did.
On the other hand, insomnia may be a modern-day disorder since it was observed in 1 percent of the members of the said tribes. Some of the tribes did not even have a word in their vocabulary to name the sleep disorder. In the U.S. alone, insomnia affects more than 20 percent of population.
Researchers said that they were inspired to start the study when they learned that elephants living in the wild had very different sleeping patterns from those living in captivity. So, they wanted to know whether city life affected sleeping behavior in humans, as well.
In their study, scientists assessed sleeping patterns of 94 members of three different tribes in Tanzania, Namibia and Bolivia. Researchers assumed that these people led a life similar to those of our ancestors.
Participants were monitored 1,165 days with help from wristwatches that monitored their sleep and the amount of light they were exposed to. The team found that all three tribes had very similar sleep patterns despite them living in different environments and cultures.
According to the study, people in the tribes didn’t go to bed as soon as the sun was down, as some studies said that it is recommended. Most of them slept 2 to 3 hours after dusk. During that time they gathered around a camp fire and prepared food, their weapons and planned for the next day. Most of them were wide awake an hour before sunrise. Additionally, none of the tribes’ folks took a nap during the afternoon.
Image Source: Pixabay
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