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Sleeping Less in Old Age May Be an Adaptation to Surviving in Wild

A study of the Hadza people in Tanzania offers an intriguing explanation as to why younger people everywhere tend to sleep later, while their elders are awake at the crack of dawn. As reported by New Scientist, researchers believe the differences in our internal time clocks may have evolved as a survival method over the ages, allowing someone to be awake as a protective measure while others sleep, quite like what animals in the wild do.

This is an interesting take on how our sleep needs are linked to our evolution as humans. Just as interesting is the way our environment, and even phases of the moon, can affect our sleep patterns. For example, scientists have long been intrigued with the effect of the moon on your body, calling it the lunar effect, and at least one study suggests that the moon may have a detrimental effect on your sleep quality and sleep pattern.

This study showed that people get 20 minutes less sleep during a full moon. Yet, another study linked air pollution to poor sleep, noting that among people exposed to the highest levels of fine-particle pollution, there was a 50 percent increased likelihood of low sleep efficiency. This study also noted that high air pollution levels may also lead to acute sleep effects after short-term exposures.

So, moon and air aside, what can you do to ensure you get more high-quality sleep? You could try a sleep tracker, which will reveal the actual time you spend asleep, or if you already suffer sleep deprivation, you can also try cognitive behavior for insomnia. For other suggestions, turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed, make sure you sleep in a totally dark room, and turn the thermostat down to between 60 and 68 degrees F. For extra help, consult my Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for 33 tips on improving your sleep.
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