Even if someone may tell you that you sleep all day, that is not true in the slightest, as a recent study has shown that humans sleep less than their primate cousins due to evolution. And they not only sleep for shorter periods of time, they benefit from deeper sleep as well.
Compared to our normal sleeping schedule of 7 hours on average, primates have almost doubled that amount, clocking in at 14 to 15 hours per day. Even though they sleep for prolonged periods of time, REM sleep, or restless eye movement sleep, only occurs during a 5% period.
This finding was made by the Duke University of Carolina with the help of studies from the National Sleep Foundation. This study encompassed over 2.000 of observed sleep of primates, especially orangutans, during their Non-REM and REM sleep schedules.
The fact that humans require less sleep stems from our ancestral position near the top of the food chain. By having fewer predators to worry about, we were able to sleep on the ground as well as dedicated a higher portion of our sleeping period to REM sleep. During this period, the subject is extremely vulnerable to predator attacks and other dangers, in general, while, in non-REM sleep, the subject springs into action almost immediately.
Add to this the threat of falling off while sleeping in treetops or on high ground, requiring balance to be kept constantly, and one would have a pretty hard time falling sound asleep.
The idea that humans sleep less due to the modern era we currently live in, requiring us to remain active for extended periods is false. When studying sleeping patterns of varied indigenous tribes ad hunter-gatherer societies, scientists found no difference concerning the 8-hour sleeping schedule. Even more so, tribes from Namibia and Tanzania that do not have access to electricity actually sleep less than 7 hours a day.
This can also be seen in other mammals as well, such as pet cats and dogs. Pet owners will rarely see their feline companion go to sleep fully, without any reaction to sound and movements. This occurs from the same reason it occurs in primates. The constant need of keeping vigilant in order to maintain safety as well as spot various pray while in the wild is an instinct deeply embedded into mammal behavior, no matter their position in the food chain.
The results of this discovery currently urge researchers to make further inquiries on the applicability of the hypothesis revolving around sleep intensity. This suggests that the human species was actually forced into having shorter sleeping schedules while at the same time maintaining a high amount of REM sleep, in order to function normally the next day.
Taking into consideration the fact that some people sleep only 4 hours a day due to their high-intensity work schedule and sleep feel fine the next day, it’s not that surprising how humans sleep less than their primate cousins due to evolution. There might even come a day in the far future when sleep will no longer be needed at all.