Story 2015-10-20 R2AJ Hunter gatherers with no access to technology still only sleep 6.5 hours a night

Hunter gatherers with no access to technology still only sleep 6.5 hours a night

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in science on (#R2AJ)
story imageThe new study, published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, shows that three ancient groups of hunter-gatherers living in different parts of the world without any of those trappings of modern life don't get any more sleep than we do.

'The short sleep in these populations challenges the belief that sleep has been greatly reduced in the 'modern world,'' said Jerome Siegel of the University of California, Los Angeles. 'This has important implications for the idea that we need to take sleeping pills because sleep has been reduced from its 'natural level' by the widespread use of electricity, TV, the Internet, and so on.'

To get a handle on how people slept before the modern era, Siegel and his colleagues looked to three traditional human hunter-gatherer societies: the Hadza of Tanzania, the San of Namibia, and the Tsimane of Bolivia. What they found was a surprising similarity across those three groups. 'Despite varying genetics, histories, and environments, we find that all three groups show a similar sleep organization, suggesting that they express core human sleep patterns, probably characteristic of pre-modern-era Homo sapiens,' Siegel says.

Group sleep time averaged between 5.7 and 7.1 hours. Those amounts are at the low end of durations reported in 'industrial societies.' Although they lack electric lights, none of the groups went to sleep with the sun. On average, they stayed up a little over three hours after the sun went down and woke up before sunrise. It appears that their sleep time may have more to do with temperature than with light.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3275149/Don-t-blame-Internet-lack-sleep-Researchers-say-hunter-gatherers-no-access-technology-sleep-6-5-hours-night.html
Reply 10 comments

I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 2, Interesting)

by tanuki64@pipedot.org on 2015-10-20 19:16 (#R399)

The closer you are to the equator, the less is the difference between day time and night time over the year. In spring and summer, where the days are long, I also need very little sleep. 5-6 hours. Absolutely within the range of above mentioned societies. In autumn and winter sometimes even 9hrs are not enough for me. Fortunately I can 'extend' the days with certain light sources.

And that is exactly what the article says:
Hunter-gatherers sleep an hour more in the winter than they do in the summer.
Even though:
It appears that their sleep time may have more to do with temperature than with light.
Maybe. The temperature in my bedroom is almost constant over the year... so no own experience here.

But I really would like to know, if there is a correlation of distance from the equator and sleep time.
Namibia is farthest away from the equator. Could it be that there the sleeping time is more in the 7.1 hour range? While in Tanzania, which is closest to the equator, the time is more in the 5.7 hour range?

Re: I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 1)

by lmariachi@pipedot.org on 2015-10-20 21:35 (#R3NJ)

My room varies tremendously in temperature (40°-115°F between late night winters and midday summers — it’s in a steel warehouse) and it is impossible to sleep late when it’s hot. Conversely, it’s hard to get out from under the covers when it’s cold. A preindustrial society wouldn’t be able to do much about the temperature but they would have a way of insulating themselves from light so as not to be woken by the sunrise shining on their faces. I suspect that’s why the authors went with temperature as the main factor.

Re: I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 3, Funny)

by fnj@pipedot.org on 2015-10-20 22:14 (#R3R5)

Your living quarters are COMPLETELY climate uncontrolled? Are you a squatter in an abandoned shipping container?

Re: I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-10-21 09:48 (#R55G)

He could be living in a EER 1 rated space. Or maybe have a serious disease which limits temperature control options. He mite just bee pore. Who nose?

Re: I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 3, Interesting)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2015-10-21 19:04 (#R6ZC)

Considering the hispanic username, I'd guess it's (most likely) just a cultural thing, with economic implications:

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/12/30/the-behavioral-economics-of-mexican-central-heating/

A good read for anybody who has aa few minutes to spare.

Re: I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-10-23 01:34 (#RBEH)

Nice article. Cuts to the heart of it: poverty means having to give up others consider essential

Re: I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2015-10-20 22:15 (#R3R8)

Pre industrial societies have access to fire, too. It would be very easy for them to maintain warmer temperatures.

Re: I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 1)

by lmariachi@pipedot.org on 2015-10-21 18:01 (#R6RD)

People living in the tropics would be more interested in making things cooler than warmer, I reckon.

Re: I am not too surprised... all countries are relatively close to the equator (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2015-10-22 06:43 (#R6ZQ)

Body temperature is 99F, unless the weather is higher than that (which it isn't at NIGHT when people want to sleep), you dont need cooling for comfort.

It is modern society that has made mechanical cooling critical. If you dont live in a huge tight structure that has lots of thermal mass and which blocks airflow, it will cool off quickly at night. If you arent obese, your body will handle high temperatures quite well. If society doesnt frown on you runing around in nothing but a loin cloth, you'll be much more comfortable in much higher (nearing 99F) temperatures.

And even very primitive man knows it stays nice and cool in caves, moist and/or shaded locations, etc. A little shade and evaporative cooling is easy to manage.

Contradicts "segmented sleep" theories, too. (Score: 2, Interesting)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2015-10-21 19:43 (#R72P)

This research also seems to undermine the theories pushed by advocates of "segmented sleep", who claim natural sleep patterns involve no more than 4-hour blocks of sleep at a time... That's right, yet again the BBC lied to you:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783