According to Anthropology
If you’ve ever wondered why the older we get, the worse we sleep, then we’ve got an answer for you.
But, it turns out that bad sleep in old age could actually be an evolutionary trait.
Why? Because a study of hunter-gatherers in Africa showed that families sleep in different patterns to make sure one stays awake, one sleeps lightly and one gets a good night’s sleep every night. So, mismatched sleeping schedules may just be an evolutionary survival trait from way back when.
The study, done by evolutionary anthropologist Charlie Nunn at Duke University in North Carolina, has said: ‘A lot of older people go to doctors complaining that they wake up early and can’t get back to sleep. But maybe there’s nothing wrong with them. Maybe some of the medical issues we have today could be explained not as disorders, but as a relic of an evolutionary past in which they were beneficial.’
‘Any time you have a mixed-age group population, some go to bed early, some later. If you’re older you’re more of a morning lark. If you’re younger you’re more of a night owl. If you’re in a lighter stage of sleep you’d be more attuned to any kind of threat in the environment.’
The study have called this theory the ‘poorly sleeping grandparent hypothesis’ and basically shows that with age, our sleeping patterns change. So, while we used to go to sleep at 11PM or midnight, we will probably start retiring for bed around 8-9PM and waking up earlier as a result.
These misaligned sleep schedules are age-dependent and show that in history, families with different sleep schedules would have survived longer to pass on this evolutionary trait because of their constant vigilance.
Well, that’s your anthropological lesson for the day done.
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