Researchers have used a smartphone app to determine that the pressures of modern living have triggered a “global sleep crisis.”

The finding comes from scientists at the University of Michigan, who have been tracking the sleep patterns of people worldwide in a massive study. They’ve gained data on the ages, gender of people in 100 countries, as well as their exposure to natural light where they slept.

The team writes:

“The effects of society on sleep remain largely unquantified. We find that social pressures weaken and/or conceal biological drives in the evening, leading individuals to delay their bedtime and shorten their sleep.” [1]

The findings show the Dutch get nearly an hour more sleep every night than people in Singapore or Japan. Women routinely get more sleep than men – about 30 extra minutes worth. Middle-aged men get the least amount of sleep of everybody.

The Entrain app was released by the researchers in 2014 to help people overcome jet lag. Users had the option to share data on their sleeping habits with the research group, as well.

Read: How Sleep Removes Toxic Waste from the Brain

Sleep Differences by Location, Gender, More

The study, published in Science Advances, found that people in Japan and Singapore snooze an average of 7 hours and 24 minutes per night, while people in the Netherlands average 8 hours and 12 minutes of sleep.

A nation’s average bedtime appeared to have the biggest impact on how long people slept. In countries where people tended to stay up later, individuals generally slept less. What time a country wakes up in the morning, however, seemed to have little impact on the number of Z’s.

One of the researchers, Daniel Forger, said people are conflicted about their desire to stay up late at night, and their bodies urging them to crawl out of bed in the morning. He explained to BBC News:

“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 [10 p.m.] or expected to go back to the office?”

How Sleep Affects Health at Numerous Levels

The study is interesting, but the findings may also help explain certain health trends, and help doctors prevent and treat various conditions. For example, lack of sleep has been linked to diabetes and heart problems. We also know that diabetes can cause heart problems. Not enough sleep has also been linked to obesity, a cause of diabetes.  There is a worldwide epidemic of both conditions.

And, according to Forger, the team’s information regarding the world’s sleep habits indicate that the planet is in the middle of a sleep crisis, making people not just sick, but a danger to each other:

“If you have very little sleep, you can perform just as well when you are drunk, so not getting much sleep is indeed a global crisis right now.”

The difference in the amount of sleep people in Japan and Singapore get and the amount of sleep people in the Netherlands get doesn’t seem like much, just minutes. But Forger said that even a difference of 30 minutes can drastically impact a person’s health and how they function. He said:

“Impaired sleep presents an immediate and pressing threat to human health.”

But this global sleep crisis is not fueled by a lack of sleep alone, but also too much of it. Sleeping late might feel good, but past research has suggested that sleeping more than 8 hours may increase your risk for heart disease and early death. [2]

Read: How Lack of Sleep Directly Affects Your Metabolism

The study concludes:

“Impaired sleep presents an immediate and pressing threat to human health.”

Sources:

[1] Mirror

[2] RT


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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.