Researchers from Duke University have published a paper in the journal Evolutionary Anthropology. They scoured the scientific literature and compiled a database of sleeping patterns across hundreds of mammals including 21 species of primates — from baboons and lemurs to orangutans, chimpanzees and people. They then used statistical techniques to account for each species’ position in the primate family tree. Their findings imply that we humans sleep less and more efficiently than our fellow mammals and primates.


Humans are short sleepers, where we average 7 hours a night, other primate species, such as southern pig-tailed macaques and gray mouse lemurs, need as many as 14 to 17 hours. Additionally, our sleep tends to be more efficient. We spend a smaller proportion of time in light stages of sleep, and more of our sleep time in deeper stages of sleep. Our REM stages make up for 25% of our overall sleep but in primates such as mouse lemurs, mongoose lemurs and African green monkeys, REM sleep barely climbs above 5%.

Full text can be found here… “Sleep intensity and the evolution of human cognition,” Samson, D. and C. Nunn. Evolutionary Anthropology, December 2015. DOI: 10.1002/evan.21464