Waking and sleeping like in the old days

Daniel BuenoThe residents of rural areas in Baependi, a municipality of almost 20,000 inhabitants in the southeast part of the state of Minas Gerais, have access to electricity just like their neighbors in the city.  But they prefer to maintain the natural sleep cycles that were lost when artificial lighting became available in homes after the Industrial Revolution – in other words, “early to bed, early to rise.”  (Scientific Reports, March 2015).  In a comparative study, researchers from the University of Surrey in Australia and from the University of São Paulo asked 729 city-dwellers and 96 rural zone residents in Baependi what time they usually got up and went to bed.  The rural residents preferred to rise and shine at 06:30 and retire at 21:20, on average, indicating a conservative lifestyle.  The people living in the city awoke at 07:15 and went to bed at 22:30.  In London, the average times for waking and sleeping were 08:30 in the morning and 23:15 in the evening, respectively.  The researchers believe that urbanites are less attuned to their natural sleep cycles – which would involve waking up and going to bed earlier – and they sleep less than their neighbors in the country, all due to the influence of artificial lighting.