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Dec 17, 2015 06:31 AM EST

Humans sleep less than other mammals, but better

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A new study has revealed that humans are better sleepers than other mammals, Beacon Transcript reports.

The researchers attributed this fact to the reason that humans spend 25% of their sleep time in R.E.M sleep or rapid eye movement. This means that humans require fewer hours of sleep than other mammals simply because their sleep is of a much higher quality.

On the other hand, other mammals spend only 5% of the sleep time in R.E.M. Other mammals, like the southern pig-tailed macaques or the grey mouse lemurs, need up to 17 hours of sleep per day. 

Researchers attribute the better quality of sleep that humans enjoy to evolution.

"Humans are unique in having shorter, higher quality sleep," said anthropologist and study co-author David Samson of Duke, who logged nearly 2,000 hours watching orangutans in REM and non-REM sleep as part of his dissertation research prior to coming to Duke, according to Science Daily.

The study shows that humans are capable of functioning well even when they sleep for as little as 7 hours. This is because humans need only between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. The fact that humans spend more sleep in R.E.M means that they sleep deeply and therefore, get more rest. R.E.M is connected to dreams and is considered as the deepest, and therefore the more restful, kind of sleep.

Researchers believe that the need to sleep less, but more effectively, developed in human beings probably around the time that they made the change from sleeping in trees to sleeping on the ground. Since sleeping on ground made them feel more secure, they were able to sleep more comfortably.

The researchers said that less sleep would give early humans longer periods of activity to gain new skills and knowledge. Meanwhile, deeper sleep leads to "enhanced cognitive abilities.", according to MNT.

The study also brought evidence that people who use modern technology require more sleep than do hunter-gatherers. This shows that we can even less sleep than the 7 hours that the study demonstrated, if only it weren't for the modern gadgets we think are indispensable.

The study was published in the journal Evolutionary Anthropology

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