If we were to look for another common identifier for humanity other than the fact that everybody dies, it’s most likely the fact that everybody sleeps. Some love it, some hate it, some try to get as much of it as possible, while others try to get as little as they can; still, we all have to go through with it.
But, while it made sense for sleep patterns to remain similar around the world before the invention of artificial illumination, that particular development caused sleeping patterns to shift drastically across cultures and different types of lighting. Attempting to determine exactly how they changed, a team of researchers from the University of Michigan just analyzed the sleep patterns of men and women around the world.
The team of researchers behind the study consisted of mathematicians Daniel Forger, Amy Cochran, and Olivia Walch, and of the app they made. ENTRAIN is an app that measures sleep patterns based on how users from all over the world are using it. The researchers decided to only account for top 20 countries to use the app.
Designed for both Android and Apple, the app requires the user to input a series of data, like gender, age, country of residence, time zone, daily sleeping and waking times, as well as the most common type of lighting in the user’s environment – low outdoor, low indoor, bright outdoor, bright indoor, etc.
Once enough information is stored on the app’s servers, ENTRAIN starts making suggestions to its users. These suggestions are in regards to their optimum bedtime, to when they’ll crash after spending a night awake, and even to help adjust their circadian rhythms after crossing time zones.
First out in 2014, the app managed to gather more than ten thousand participants, greatly helping the researchers in their attempt to gather data regarding international sleeping habits. With such a large a sample, the results are, without a doubt, pretty accurate.
First of all, apparently women and girls sleep for at least half an hour more than men and boys across all countries. Age is also a very large determinant, with children going to bed and waking early, growing into adolescents and going to bed late and waking up even later, and then starting a regular sleep schedule into adulthood.
Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, and the US are the earliest to bed, while Spain, Singapore, and France are some of the latest to call it a night. The twenty countries which made into the study are the U.S., Australia, the U.K., Spain, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Germany, China, Japan, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Canada, Singapore, Belgium, Italy, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
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