Do you feel well-rested? Are you already looking forward to the next coffee? Do you feel exhausted? Do you wish you had more energy? More focus? All of these questions lead to one broader question: are you getting enough sleep?
Before we can answer that, first we should investigate what a normal amount of sleep actually is. The availability of artificial light since the 1840s has allowed us to be active beyond our natural limits, taking away from the time we might be naturally asleep. The validity of this idea can be examined by looking at “experiments of nature,” societies that have no electricity to provide the artificial light that extends the useful day, societies which exist as hunter-gatherers.
In a study by Jerry Siegel, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at UCLA, three hunter-gatherer societies were studied using activity monitors (a validated medical version of FitBit or Jawbone) with light meters which found that these disparate societies show similar sleep parameters. They do not sleep more than modern humans, with average durations of 5.7 to 7.1 hours, they go to sleep three hours after sunset and awake before sunrise, with ambient and body temperature driving these times. Little napping was seen.
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