Sleep studies in small-scale subsistence societies have broadened our understanding of cross-cultural sleep patterns, revealing the flexibility of human sleep. We examined sleep biology among BaYaka foragers from the Republic of Congo who move between environmentally similar but socio-ecologically distinct locations to access seasonal resources. We analyzed the sleep–wake patterns of 51 individuals as they resided in a village location (n = 39) and a forest camp (n = 23) (362 nights total). Overall, BaYaka exhibited high sleep fragmentation (50.5) and short total sleep time (5.94 h), suggestive of segmented sleep patterns. Sleep duration did not differ between locations, although poorer sleep quality was exhibited in the village. Linear mixed effect models demonstrated that women’s sleep differed significantly from men’s in the forest, with longer total sleep time (β ± SE =  − 0.22 ± 0.09, confidence interval (CI) = [− 0.4, − 0.03]), and higher sleep quality (efficiency; β ± SE =  − 0.24 ± 0.09, CI = [− 0.42, − 0.05]). These findings may be due to gender-specific social and economic activities. Circadian rhythms were consistent between locations, with women exhibiting stronger circadian stability. We highlight the importance of considering intra-cultural variation in sleep–wake patterns when taking sleep research into the field.

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Journal: Scientific Reports. 2021 Jul 1;11(1):1-4

Keywords: anthropology, BaYaka, Circadian rhythm, cross-cultural sleep patterns, Sleep,

Applications: Sleep,

CamNtech Reference: M21046

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