We’ve all heard the recommendations about the need for 8 hours of sleep every night, but is this really necessary? A recent study comparing the sleep habits of our human ancestors says maybe not.
The study examined the sleeping habits of two African tribes, Hadza of Tanzania and the San of Namibia and one South American tribe, Tsimane from Bolivia. The lifestyle of these tribes is thought to be much the same as some of the first human tribes. What the researchers found was that members of these tribes get about only 6 and a half hours of sleep a night, a full hour and a half less than what the doctor recommends.
In these tribes it is normal to go to bed a few hours after sundown and still wakeup no earlier than sunrise, a scenario many of us regret in the morning. In most cases the early night was filled with socializing among the tribe.
Considering that these tribes have a hunter-gatherer type lifestyle and still thrive on less than seven hours of sleep might say something about our lifestyle.
“Maybe people should be a little bit more relaxed about sleeping. If you sleep seven hours a night, that’s close to what our ancestors were sleeping,” says Jerome Siegel of the University of Los Angeles.
This study has revealed that in today’s society, we don’t get any less sleep than our ancestors in the wild. These results will challenge the need for things like sleeping pills or the daily cup of coffee.