The harmfulness of blue light to our sleep cycles has been widely reported on in the past few years, but a new UTM study suggests that our restless nights might in fact be due to our hunter-gatherer ancestry.
The study, recently conducted by David Samson Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UTM, supports the sentinel hypothesis, according to which restless sleeping and waking up during the night served as means of survival in hunter-gatherer groups back when sleep made humans vulnerable to predators and other threats.
Samson and his co-authors studied the Hadza tribe in Tanzania who still lead a lifestyle very similar to early humans. The study tracked the tribes sleep patterns for 20 days with watch-like devices and then compared the data from all the members. They found that the varying sleep cycles between age groups combined with members of the tribe waking up several time a night provided them continuous natural watchmen. The members of the tribe were simultaneously asleep for only 18 minutes during the study.
For all the digital detoxing we might do, the best way forward may be to just embrace our natural sleep cycles and try to not get anxious when sleep eludes us. Though electronics might be contributing to our current sleeping troubles, Samson hopes his study will reduce sleep anxiety and perhaps lead to a more naturally sleeping society.
I guess Apple’s ‘Night Shift’ didn’t save us after all.