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Paleo Sleep

October 22, 2015

Ancient peoples’ sleep might not have been much different than our own.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Paleo sleep habits. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Think you’re not sleeping enough? Maybe you blame modern living and electric lighting, but actually, your ancestors might not have slept much differently. A Current Biology study of hunter-gatherer societies reveals they sleep six and a half hours a night, similar to us. Additionally, temperature regulates their sleep, not light, reports UCLA psychiatry professor Jerome Siegel.

JEROME SIEGEL (University of California, Los Angeles):

They seem to be responding to the temperature of the environment, that’s sort of their natural alarm clock.

HIRSHON:

The hunter-gatherers go to sleep about three hours after sunset—as temperatures drop—and wake around sunrise, when temperatures bottom out and begin to rise. Siegel says modern homes’ regulated temperature may contribute to insomnia, but not to fret over your sleep unless you’re constantly tired. In that case, you might try turning down the thermostat at bedtime. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.