New research from Duke University sheds light on the slumber patterns of dozens of mammals, finding that humans are exceptionally efficient sleepers. We can get by on a mere seven hours of sleep, compared to the 14-17 hours needed by our primate relatives, researchers found.
“Humans are unique in having shorter, higher quality sleep,” said study co-author David Samson, who spent some 2,000 hours observing orangutans in non-REM and REM sleep as part of his dissertation research.
What does it mean to be an efficient sleeper? Unlike chimpanzees, macaques and lemurs, humans spend less time during the night in light stages of sleep, while more hours are devoted to deeper stages, such as rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Duke researchers discovered that REM accounts for at least 25 percent of our nightly sleep, whereas primates rarely get more than five percent of this restorative dream state.
So how did we evolve to have high quality and shorter periods of sleep? Duke anthropologists postulate that this shift can be traced back to the earliest “beds” of our ancestors, who likely slumbered in trees. With the advent of fire, early humans began sleeping on the ground among larger groups who could keep an eye out for dangerous predators.
The need for less sleep also allowed our human ancestors to devote more time to learning new skills, hunting for food and making social bonds.
The researchers also note that deep REM sleep also afforded better concentration, improved brainpower and a sharper memory.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, quality sleep is an important indicator of health and overall wellbeing. Insomniacs and those who’ve lost out on restful slumber for several consecutive nights understand the damaging impact sleep loss places on your memory, stress levels and productivity.
While humans may sleep more efficiently, to get the maximum benefit those ZZZs need to be pain free and uninterrupted. Here at Mattress World Northwest, we want our customers to enjoy the health benefits of restorative sleep by choosing the right bed, which is why our showrooms are stocked with the latest advancements in sleep technology.
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