Electricity can affect sleep

25 June 2015

A new study has suggested that artificial light may be the main reason why many people get less sleep now than their ancestors did. 

The research looked at traditional hunter-gatherer living conditions and compared these to a more modern environment. It found that access to artificial light and electricity has shortened the amount of sleep humans get each night. 

Published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms, these findings are the first to document such a relationship.

Lead author Professor Horacio de la Iglesia, from the University of Washington, said the study confirms what was previously thought about the impact of artificial light. However, it is the first time that it has been proven in a natural setting, rather than in a lab or as part of an intervention study.

Along with his team, Professor de la Iglesia compared two traditionally hunter-gatherer communities that had almost identical ethnic and sociocultural backgrounds but had different levels of access to electricity. 

They wanted to see if without any other contributing factors whether electricity could affect a person's sleep pattern in both summer and winter. They found that the community who only had natural light slept an hour more than their connected counterparts. 

Posted by Edward Bartel

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