Sleep duration, quality, and rest-activity pattern—a measure for inferring circadian rhythm—are influenced by multiple factors including access to electricity. Recent findings suggest that the safety and comfort afforded by technology may improve sleep but negatively impact rest-activity stability. According to the circadian entrainment hypothesis, increased access to electric lighting should lead to weaker and less uniform circadian rhythms, measured by stability of rest-activity patterns. Here, we investigate sleep in a Maya community in Guatemala who are in a transitional stage of industrialization. We predicted that (i) sleep will be shorter and less efficient in this population than in industrial settings, and that (ii) rest-activity patterns will be weaker and less stable than in contexts with greater exposure to the natural environment and stronger and more stable than in settings more buffered by technologic infrastructure. Our results were mixed. Compared to more industrialized settings, in our study population sleep was 4.87% less efficient (78.39% vs 83.26%). We found no significant difference in sleep duration. Rest-activity patterns were more uniform and less variable than in industrial settings (interdaily stability = 0.58 vs 0.43; intradaily variability = 0.53 vs 0.60). Our results suggest that industrialization does not inherently reduce characteristics of sleep quality; instead, the safety and comfort afforded by technological development may improve sleep, and an intermediate degree of environmental exposure and technological buffering may support circadian rhythm strength and stability.

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Journal: Plos one. 2022 Nov 16;17(11):e0277416.

Keywords: Chronobiology, Circadian rhythm, maya people, Sleep, sunlight,

Applications: Chronobiology,

CamNtech Reference: M22063

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