A town that sleeps like it's pre-industrial times


Researchers are studying the "pre-industrial" sleeping patterns of Baependi, a rural community in Brazil, who go to bed and wake earlier than most people, mostly because they work outside.

The scientists say the insights they gather may help reveal how "cardiovascular health, obesity, diabetes, and mental health problems may be associated with our move away from the natural day/night cycle, and the associated sleep loss."

"In big cities, the availability of cheap electricity has brought us both artificial lighting and a multitude of other electronic devices that compete with us going to sleep at night," says University of Surrey neurobiologist Malcolm von Schantz who led the study with University of São Paulo colleagues

"As a result, most of us go to bed much later than our ancestors did, and, many of us are sleeping less. Even though the people in Baependi have access to electricity and television, their daily rhythms are much closer to those of previous generations. Studying this population is like being able to look back at past generations through a pair of binoculars and provide an insight into the benefit this natural pattern may be having on their health."