Friday, November 14, 2014

Mapping Bedtimes

I have a theory that in Europe people who live in the northern countries go to bed far earlier than those who live in southern Europe. The more protestant, dour northern Europeans head off to a bed early. At exactly the same time those Roman Catholic, fun-loving Europeans in the south are just leaving home for that evening's fiesta.

For some reason I assumed that there would be a similar north-south split in the USA. However it turns out that in the U.S. there is more of an east-west split. Jawbone has released an interactive map of Average Bedtime by US County. You can see on the map above that there appear to be distinct bands of similar bedtimes running east to west across the country.

Jawbone has a reasonable explanation of this trend. They believe that this trend is caused by time-zones. If you look at the borders between Eastern Time and Central Time you can clearly see that there is a marked difference in the times when people go to bed on either side of the border. Jawbone argue that if people either side of the border "go to bed 4 hours after the sun goes down, their clocks will say that the person in Eastern Time went to bed one hour later than the person in Central Time".

There are some obvious exceptions to this rule. For example, in most major cities and in college towns bedtimes tend to be a little later than the norm for people who live elsewhere on the same longitude.

This exception is also apparent in the number of hours Americans sleep. Jawbone has also released a map of the Total Hours of Night Sleep by US County. This map shows that in no major city in the USA do most of the citizens get the recommended seven hours of sleep a night.

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