Complaints about modern life ruining our sleep stretch as far back as the 1880s. So what even constitutes regular sleeping patterns? Everyone’s made guesses and even blamed a multitude of health issues on a lack of sleep.
A research team decided to follow 3 different groups living in Tanzania, Namibia, and Bolivia that are surviving in a pre-industrial state without electricity to get an idea of what “natural” sleeping would be like.
What they found was that these groups didn’t sleep more than”modern” humans do catching about 5.7–7.1 hours of shut eye a day.
They go to sleep several hours after sunset and typically awaken before sunrise, and temperature appears to regulate sleep duration and timing.
“The daily cycle of temperature change, largely eliminated from modern sleep environments, may be a potent natural regulator of sleep. Light exposure was maximal in the morning and greatly decreased at noon, indicating that all three groups seek shade at midday and that light activation of the suprachiasmatic nucleus is maximal in the morning. Napping occurred on <7% of days in winter and <22% of days in summer.”
New Zealanders get on average 8.8 hours of sleep, which is almost an hour over the average which is normally recommended.