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.
Elders’ Sleeping Issues Might Originate from their Roles in Prehistoric Communities
A new study managed to link the lifestyles of modern hunter-gatherers located in Tanzania with the insomnia people experience still even in urban regions. The research paper appeared Tuesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and found another vestige of humans’ evolutionary adaptation.
The findings of this investigation constructed a new theory called the “poorly sleeping grandparent hypothesis.” In the prehistoric past, a community of people relied on their elders to remain awake at dawn. This way, youngsters refreshed their powers to provide food for the entire community during the day. However, the old members of the group repaid them with overnight protection. Their main task was to identify any predator that chose them as victims.
Alyssa Crittenden is one of the writers of the paper and works as an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She stated that this theory is a valid explanation to the reason why ancient groups promoted a mixed-age society.
“We may be looking at just another reason why grandparents were critical in human evolution.”
Researchers Monitored Members of the Hadza Culture for Their Study
Researchers studies today’s society called Hadza as it still shares many features with prehistoric customs. They still sleep out in the open or at most in huts of grass. One group can contain up to 30 members. Scientists monitored 220 total hours of sleep.
However, only 18 minutes adult members were all asleep. This is because the elders were the first to fall asleep but also the first to wake up before those aged 20 to 40. At least one-third of the group was alert or dozing at all times.
Researchers hope that these new insights would contribute to finding treatments or therapies for sleeping issues among senior citizens. They are working on new solutions to solve disrupting sleep patterns.
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