Early Human Sleep Patterns
With the modern technologies and pressures in today’s society we often feel as though we are not getting enough sleep. The growing industries offering hours of energy in a convenient mode of consumption are seen as normal ways to get through your day due to lack of sleep. But when did this change to toward a pattern of less sleep occur? Were our ancestors sleeping longer and waking up feeling more energized? The latest research says no.
A study done on three pre-industrial societies found that our early ancestors got about the same amount of sleep as we do. The average amount spent asleep was 5.7 to 7.1 hours per night. Most of them did not nap during the day either (no power naps).
They also found that complaints about the “modern world” causing sleep problems started around the 1880s.
Researchers based their findings on the habits of three different tribes who were outfitted with wrist monitors to gauge their activities throughout the day and night. The tribes are living life much like humans did before the industrial revolution. Sleep patterns were not seen to be different from those of our modern society. The tribes’ average life expectancy was also similar to those living in modern society, which they believe means that our current sleep pattern is not having detrimental effect on health.
Although the amount of sleep we are getting may not have changed much since our early ancestors, abnormal sleeping patterns and rhythms may lead to health concerns. More research is needed to see if our quality of sleep has changed in the modern era. Good sleep (like anything else) takes time and hard work to perfect. So practice good sleep!
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LA Times “Modern Life Isn’t Stealing Your Sleep” -Karen Kaplan