Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Humans evolved to get better sleep in less time


   With finals week among us, I figured that an article about human sleep patterns would be most appropriate, since a lot of students are currently not getting any sleep.  On average humans are able to function adequately on approximately seven hours of sleep.  However some of our closer primate relatives such as the southern pig-tailed macaques need 14-17 hours of sleep.  Researchers at Duke set out to determine how humans possible evolved to sleep less.
        After studying over 21 different primate species sleep patterns the researchers determined that humans sleep less, but get more quality hours of sleep. Deep sleep state is called rapid eye movement sleep, which makes up 25% hours of our sleep, however in primates only 5% of their sleep is REM sleep.  A theory was that humans have developed this sleep pattern because of the artificial light that we are exposed to by televisions, computers, and cell phones.  However research was conducted on hunter-gather societies in South America and Africa with no technology and it was found that they sleep even less than we do.
         Overall I think we can thank evolution for the change in the sleep pattern of humans to enable us to sleep shorter amount of time with more quality hours.  This way we can stay up studying all night for an 8:30 am exam wake up after 3 hours of sleep and have enough sleep to ace the exam.

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  1. I wish I could sleep as long as a macaques! Even though they don't have the quality sleep we do, they definitely have the life. It was interesting to me primates only have 5% of REM sleep, I thought it would be a bit more .

  2. Its pretty crazy what the human body can endure and work through with minimal amounts of sleep. The fact that humans have developed a more efficient way to sleep compared to other primates is amazing.

  3. I find this very interesting because I always though that our exposure to technology would result in us sleeping less instead of more. It is definitely surprising to me that humans get a better quality of sleep.