Have you ever tried to count just how much time your cat spends sleeping each day? It’s about 12 to 16 hours. Dogs might not seem as lazy, but most dog breeds sleep about 14 hours a day, and some sleep up to 18 hours a day. Compare that to the seven or eight hours that most of us get, and we sleep about half as much as our furry companions.

And that’s not all. We even sleep much less than our primate relatives, and a new study from Duke University explains why: we are much more efficient sleepers.

Senior man sleeping peacefully in bed

Comparing Human Sleep to Other Mammals

The new study was published in the journal Evolutionary Anthropology. For the study, researchers compiled a database of the sleeping habits of hundreds of mammal species, including 21 primate species, then compared them to human sleep patterns. They confirmed what you already suspected: you get a lot less sleep than your cat or dog.

But before you spend too much time being jealous of how long your furry friend gets to stay in that warm, comfy bed while you have to get up for work, think about the tradeoff: humans have developed a more efficient sleep pattern that gives us more time for other things in our lives, such as more family time, more play time, and more thinking time so we can create and enjoy art, games, and, yes, work–all the things that set us apart from the beasts of the forest.

With their sleep database, the Duke researchers were able to confirm that getting less sleep wasn’t a primate thing. Some primates, like lemurs, sleep up to 18 hours a day. Even our closest relatives, chimpanzees, sleep an average of eleven and a half hours a day.

So how are we able to get by with so much less sleep? Increased intensity of deep sleep. Humans spend about twice as much time in deep sleep than other animals, and with greater proportions of deep sleep, we get more REM sleep–about 25% of sleep time in healthy sleepers, which allows us to fulfill our cognitive and metabolic needs in a shorter period of time.

Sleep Apnea Robs You of This Benefit

And that’s part of the reason why sleep apnea makes you so fatigued during the day. With the repeated interruptions of your sleep, you have a harder time reaching and staying in rejuvenative deep sleep. And with a smaller proportion of deep sleep, your body might actually need as much sleep as your cat gets to make up the deficit.

Which leaves you with two options. Either convince your friends, family, and, hardest of all, your boss, that you need 16 hours of sleep each day, or get sleep apnea treatment which will allow you to get efficient sleep again.

If you’ve failed in lobbying for extended sleep hours and are looking for sleep apnea treatment in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.