UNLV joint study finds that elusive sleep patterns as humans age may have evolved to ensure safety.
From professional reasons to personal connections, faculty across campus share why they’re fond of certain works they penned.
It is known that once they reach a certain age, elders are sleeping fewer and fewer hours at night. While most of them complain of the side effects of their sleeping issues, this topic might pertain to the heritage humans receive from prehistoric times. Thousands of years ago, the oldest members of a group might have been in charge of watching over the cave at night.
Trouble sleeping is a common complaint among older folks, but what if their insomnia traces back to prehistoric times when Grandma and Grandpa were in charge of keeping the cave safe at night?
If your sleep is getting worse with age, evolution might be to blame. A study recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that humans' age-specific sleep patterns may have evolved to protect mixed-age groups from potential danger in the night. And in this scenario, the elderly members of these groups may have drawn the short straw—their restless sleep made them perfect for the night watch.
You may not look forward to sleeping less as you get older. But maybe it wouldn’t seem as bad if you knew it once played an important role in human survival.
Poor sleep is often regarded as a modern affliction linked to our sedentary lifestyles, electric lighting and smartphones on the bedside table.
Lincy Assistant Professor of Anthropology
An expert in the evolution of human nutrition, hunter-gatherer societies, and the division of labor between the sexes.
An expert in medical anthropology, health, disease, and maternal nutrition.
Professor of Anthropology
An expert in Neolithic archaeological sites.