Global sleeping patterns revealed by app data

Global sleeping patterns revealed by app data

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A study published in Science Advances shows the world’s sleeping patterns as collected from an app, according to an article published recently on BBC News. The study shows how Dutch people sleep nearly an hour more than people in Singapore or Japan, or that women get more sleep than men, while middle-aged men get the least amount.

Researchers from the University of Michigan who have analyzed the data from this app believe the findings can be used to deal with the “global sleep crisis”. They released the Entrain app in 2014 in order to help people overcome jetlag, and users could share data regarding their sleeping habits with the research group.

According to the study, people in Japan and Singapore have an average of seven hours and 24 minutes of sleep, while people in the Netherlands have eight hours and 12 minutes. People in UK averaged under eight hours, less than the French.

A country’s average bedtime has the biggest impact on the time spend in bed. The later a country stays up, the less sleep it gets. But what time a country wakes up has little effect on sleep duration.

Professor Daniel Forger, one of the researchers, identifies a conflict between our desire to stay awake more and our bodies asking us to get up in the morning. He told BBC News that:

“Society is pushing us to stay up late, our [body] clocks are trying to get us up earlier and in the middle the amount of sleep is being sacrificed; that’s what we think is going on in global sleep crisis. If you look at countries that are really getting less sleep then I’d spend less time worrying about alarm clocks and more about what people are doing at night – are they having big dinners at 22:00 or expected to go back to the office?”

The study also shows how women spend an average of 30 minutes more in bed than men, especially between the ages of 30 and 60, and that people who get more natural sunlight tend to go to bed earlier.

There is also a strong effect of age on sleep, as a wide range of sleep and wake-up times was found in young people more than in old people.

Dr Akhilesh Reddy, from the University of Cambridge, told BBC News:

“I think it’s interesting; there’s been a trend for these studies using data from twitter and apps and finding interesting correlations across the world we’ve never been able to do by putting people in sleep lab. It highlights that although our body clocks are programming us to do certain things, we can’t as we’re ruled by social circumstances. We won’t know the long-term consequences of this for many years.”

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