WELCOME TO THE SHEL — the Sleep and Human Evolution Lab! Research in the SHEL focuses on the biology, ecology, and evolution of primate sleep. It is well known that sleep is important to many physical and mental processes of the human body; however, many aspects of the role of sleep in human evolution remain a mystery. To investigate the fitness enhancing properties of sleep, we use non-invasive technologies to record sleep and sleep architecture for a range of human and non-human primates. The SHEL's ultimate goal is to further our understanding of the evolutionary links between sleep, health, and cognition in the human lineage. Want to learn more? Navigate the menu in the top right!



Picture of David Samson


David R. Samson, Ph.D. | Director 


Dr. Samson has a high-profile research program featured in such venues as BBC, Time, New York Times, and New Scientist. Sleep has been identified as a major factor in human physical and mental health, yet almost no research has been done on the role of sleep in human evolution. His research investigates the link between sleep and human evolution through revolutionary new approaches, recording sleep data sets and sleep architecture for a range of primates including lemurs, zoo orangutans, wild chimpanzees, and humans living in different types and scales of societies. Dr. Samson’s research directly addresses the central anthropological question of human uniqueness in comparison to other animals. 


Learn More About Dr. Samson & His Research