Germany

Longitude Lag: Your Time-Zone Location May Be Affecting How You Sleep

A recent study compared the sleeping patterns of people living in western and eastern Germany, who all share the same time zone. When it comes to zzzz'ing: longitude matters!

Sleep deprived? Blame it on time zones! (hang_in_there)
Sleep deprived? Blame it on time zones! (hang_in_there)

Human beings have internal biological clocks that are set to the natural path of the sun. Our modern lives, however, are calibrated on a different time horizon. According to a recent study, published in the magazine Current Biology, the discrepancy between internal and social clocks creates a permanent social jet lag that may be at the origins of severe pathologies.

Till Roenneberg, Interim Director of the Institute of Medical Psychology Team at Munich University, led the study of the sleeping and waking behavior of several thousand Germans who were on vacation and without mandatory social or work requirement, in order to calculate the natural phases of sleep.

Comparing the behavior of people living in eastern and western Germany, the study shows that the average mid-sleep moment varies by four minutes for each degree of longitude. The consequence is that the mid-sleep moment for Germans who live near the western border happens 36 minutes after the midsleep moment of Germans who live along the eastern border.

This would seem to make sense, given that the sun takes exactly four minutes to move by each degree of longitude. The issue, though, is that time zones are not strictly based on this path. The time zone in eastern and western Germany is in fact the same. As a consequence, people who live on the western edge of a time zone suffer from sleep deprivation. The social jet leg is the exhaustion produced by this gap, and might lead to chronic disorders.

Read more from La Stampa. Original article in Italian by Rodolfo Costa.

Photo - hang_in_there

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation

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Migrant Lives

English Channel To The Mediterranean: Borders That Kill

The deaths of 27 migrants off the French coast of Calais is one more tragedy on a long list in the European Union. After the initial shock, however, we tend to forget, get used to it and in the end, become indifferent.

Migrants on a dinghy on the English Channel

Michel Agier*

-Analysis-

PARIS — The wreckage of a small boat that led to 27 people to die in the English Channel is added to the list of endless death along Europe’s borders.

Unfortunately, there is nothing fundamentally new about this tragedy. Since 1993, at least 50,000 people have died trying to cross the external borders of the European Union, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1999, more than 300 people have died off the northern French coast of Calais while trying to cross the border into the UK, which has been "externalized" on French soil by the 2004 Le Touquet Treaty. The years 2000 and 2010 were marked by reports of casualties at the borders, some horrifying like the two successive shipwrecks on April 12 and 19, 2015 that left thousands dead.

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