Humans don’t get enough sleep. Just ask other primates. | Science News

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Humans don’t get enough sleep. Just ask other primates.

People devote more time to learning, at the expense of shut-eye, researchers propose

By
7:00am, March 7, 2018
ring-tailed lemurs

SNOOZE TIME  Humans get much less sleep than expected for a primate  with our biological and lifestyle characteristics, a study finds. Most other studied primates, including ring-tailed lemurs like these, sleep about as much on average as researchers estimated they should.

People have evolved to sleep much less than chimps, baboons or any other primate studied so far.

A large comparison of primate sleep patterns finds that most species get somewhere between nine and 15 hours of shut-eye daily, while humans average just seven. An analysis of several lifestyle and biological factors, however, predicts people should get 9.55 hours, researchers report online February 14 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Most other primates in the study typically sleep as much as the scientists’ statistical models predict they should.

Two long-standing features of human life have contributed to unusually short sleep times, argue evolutionary anthropologists Charles Nunn of Duke University and David Samson of the University of Toronto Mississauga. First, when humans’ ancestors descended from the trees to sleep on the ground, individuals probably had

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