Visualizing the World’s Sleeping Habits
Sleep quality, patterns, and duration may vary among countries, but one thing’s clear─people still aren’t getting enough sleep. While some people can function on a few hours, others find themselves reaching for that second cup of morning coffee instead of getting those extra Z’s.
Today’s graphic comes from Raconteur and highlights some startling takeaways from the 2019 Philips Global Sleep Survey, answered by over 11,000 adults from 12 countries.
Let’s settle in to discover what impacts our sleeping habits, also known as sleep hygiene, and what helps people sleep better and longer.
Why Sleep Is Important
Roughly 62% of adults worldwide feel that they don’t sleep well when they go to bed. Losing just one or two hours of sleep per night can have the same impact on motor and cognitive functions as going without sleep for a full day or two.
Experts have long emphasized that developing good sleeping habits can help to maintain our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Ongoing sleep deprivation can also cause severe, long-term health conditions:
- Heart disease and heart failure
- Weak immune system
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
Drowsiness has been a significant factor in roughly 100,000 car accidents every year, causing an estimated 1,500 deaths. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to a number of disasters, such as airplane and boat accidents, and even nuclear reactor meltdowns.
The Science of Sleep
The human body follows the circadian rhythm─a 24-hour repeating rhythm that operates as an internal clock. This clock is controlled by two things: external cues such as light and darkness, and internal compounds that trigger and maintain our sleep.
These chemicals work together to keep our sleep/wake cycles in harmony.
- Adenosine: slowly builds the desire for sleep throughout the day
- Melatonin: produces drowsy feelings that signal your body is now ready for sleep
- Cortisol: naturally triggers your body to wake up
While sleep duration can vary greatly around the world, most adults are still not getting enough shut-eye. The average person gets 6.8 hours of sleep on a weeknight, which is significantly lower than the recommended 8 hours.
One company in the UK has even developed a real-time map of social media posts from people who say they can’t fall or stay asleep.
What Prevents Better Sleep?
People can suffer from a lack of sleep for many reasons─below are the top six culprits.
- Worry and Stress
Job, family, health, financial, and a myriad of other concerns plague people from all walks of life. Adults living in Canada and Singapore tend to be the most worried.
The physical space where you sleep plays a large role in the quality and duration of your sleep. Nearly 35% of adults fall asleep somewhere other than their bed. Interestingly, Chinese adults are the least comfortable when sleeping, while Japanese adults are the most comfortable.
- Work and School Schedules
Hectic careers and heavy school workloads have a direct and lasting impact on sleeping habits. Many forego sleep in favor of completing work, social, and household responsibilities.
In the age of technology, natural rhythms of daytime and nighttime perception have been skewed, especially from the effects of blue light emitted from our device screens.
Eating food, or drinking alcohol or caffeine within the last few hours before bedtime can prevent our brains from knowing it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep. Adults living in the fast-paced developed nations of China, Canada, the United States, and Singapore are the most caffeinated.
- Health Conditions
Over three-quarters of adults experience at least one health condition that impacts sleep. These include insomnia, sleep apnea─which affects roughly 22 million people in the U.S. alone─snoring, restless leg syndrome (RLS), narcolepsy, and chronic pain.
Developing Good Sleeping Habits
Sleep is often the first to be neglected with our hectic schedules. Here are a few ways to practice better habits for a good night’s sleep.
Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day─even on weekends─to establish a more ingrained rhythm for your body clock and help your brain better prepare for sleep.
Pick a time of day that suits your schedule and energy levels, and be sure to stick with it. Exercise helps to balance melatonin and cortisol levels throughout the day.
Get outside often during the day and reduce the time spent outside at night. Limit screen time at least 30-60 minutes before sleep.
Food and Drink
Avoid eating large meals or drinking alcohol or caffeine in the last couple of hours before you go to sleep. Caffeine effects can linger for up to 8 hours, which breaks natural sleep rhythms.
Recent studies have shown that mind-body treatments for insomnia such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation had positive impacts on improving sleep quality.
Set the bed for success—keep your room cool and dark, buy a high-quality mattress and comfortable bed linens and use a white-noise machine to help you fall asleep.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our health; it’s also one of the easiest to neglect. Don’t put yourself into sleep debt─get enough shut-eye to enjoy those sweet dreams.
The 44 Closest Stars and How They Compare to our Sun
This graphic visualizes the 44 closest stars, revealing key facts such as distance from Earth, brightness, and whether potential planets are in orbit.
44 Closest Stars and How They Compare to our Sun
Humans have been fascinated by the stars in the night sky since the dawn of time.
We’ve been decoding the mysteries of celestial bodies for many centuries, but it is only in the last 200 years or so that we’ve been able to glean more detailed information on the lights that dot the night sky. Friedrich Bessel’s method of stellar parallax was a breakthrough in accurately measuring the positions of stars, and opened new doors in the effort to map our universe. Today, high-powered telescopes offer even more granular data on our cosmic neighborhood.
The infographic above, from Alan’s Factory Outlet, categorizes the 44 closest stars to Earth, examining the size, luminosity, constellations, systems, and potential planets of each star.
Our Nearest Stellar Neighbors
Our closest neighboring stars are all part of the same solar system: Alpha Centauri. This triple star system – consisting of Proxima Centauri, Alpha Centauri A, and Alpha Centauri B – attracts a lot of interest because it hosts planets, including one that may be similar to Earth.
The planet, Proxima Centauri b, is a lot closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun. However, because Proxima Centauri is a smaller and cooler red dwarf type star, the planet’s orbit is within the habitable zone. It’s thought that Proxima Centauri b receives approximately the same amount of solar energy as Earth does from our Sun.
Here’s a full list of the 44 of the closest stars to Earth:
|Star Name||Distance (light years)||MoE|
|α Centauri A||4.37||±0.0068|
|α Centauri B||4.37||±0.0068|
|Luyten 726-8 A||8.79||±0.012|
|Luyten 726-8 B||8.79||±0.012|
|EZ Aquarii A||11.11||±0.034|
|61 Cygni A||11.40||±0.0012|
|61 Cygni B||11.40||±0.0012|
|Struve 2398 A||11.49||±0.0012|
|Struve 2398 B||11.49||±0.0012|
|Groombridge 34 A||11.62||±0.0008|
|Groombridge 34 B||11.62||±0.0008|
|Kruger 60 A||13.07||±0.0052|
|Kruger 60 B||13.07||±0.0052|
|Wolf 424 A||14.05||±0.26|
|Van Maanen's star||14.07||±0.0023|
Even though we see many of these stars in the night sky, humans aren’t likely to see them in person any time soon. To put these vast distances into perspective, if the Voyager spacecraft were to travel to Proxima Centauri, it would take over 73,000 years to finally arrive.
The Brightest Stars in the Sky
The closest stars aren’t necessarily the ones most visible to us here on Earth. Here are the top 10 stars in terms of visual brightness from Earth:
|Rank||Proper name||Constellation||Visual magnitude (mV)||Distance (light years)|
|4||Rigil Kentaurus & Toliman||Centaurus||−0.27 (0.01 + 1.33)||4.4|
Excluding our Sun, the brightest star visible from Earth is Sirius, or the Dog Star. Sirius, which is about 25 times more luminous than the sun, visually punctuates the constellation Canis Major.
Filling in the Gaps
The next step in learning more about our surroundings in the cosmos will be seeing which of the stars listed above have planets orbiting them. So far, the 44 stars in the infographic have over 40 planets scattered among them, though new discoveries are made all the time.
With each new mission and discovery, we learn a little bit more about our pocket of the universe.
Visualizing the True Size of Land Masses from Largest to Smallest
Maps can distort the size and shape of countries. This visualization puts the true size of land masses together from biggest to smallest.
The True Size of Land Masses from Largest to Smallest
Is Greenland the size of the entire African continent?
But looking at a map based on the Mercator projection, you would think so.
Today’s infographic comes from the design studio Art.Lebedev and shows the true size of the world’s land masses in order from largest to smallest using data from NASA and Google.
Check out the actual shape and size of each land mass without any distortions.
Distorting Reality: Mercator Misconceptions
Maps can deceive your eyes but they are still powerful tools for specific purposes. In 1569, the legendary cartographer, Gerardus Mercator, created a new map based on a cylindrical projection of sections of the Earth. These types of maps were suited for nautical navigation since every line on the sphere is a constant course, or loxodrome.
Despite the map’s nautical utility, the Mercator projection has an unwanted downside. The map type increases the sizes of land masses close to the poles (such as in North America, Europe, or North Asia) as a side effect. As a result, Canada and Russia appear to take up approximately 25% of the Earth’s surface, when in reality these nations only occupy 5%.
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” – Phaedrus
This collection of images above represents the world’s land masses in their correct proportions. Measurements are based on Google Maps 2016 and NASA Earth Observatory maps, with calculations based on the WGS84 reference ellipsoid, or more simply, a specific model of the Earth’s shape in two dimensions.
We take for granted Google Maps and satellite imaging. Making these accurate representations is no small task – the designers went through six steps and many different iterations of the graphic.
Countries are arranged by descending size and shown without external or dependent territories. For example, the total area for the contiguous United States shown does not include Hawaii, Alaska, or overseas territories.
Top 10 Largest Land Masses
Although Mercator maps distort the size of land masses in the Northern Hemisphere, many of these countries still cover massive territories.
|United States (contiguous)||7,654,643|
The top 10 land masses by size account for 55% of the Earth’s total land. The remainder is split by the world’s 195 or so other countries.
Top 10 Smallest Land Masses
Here are the 10 tiniest jurisdictions highlighted on the map:
While the Earth’s land surface has been claimed by many authorities, the actual impact of human activity is less than one would think.
Human Impact: Humbled by Nature
Political borders have claimed virtually every piece of land available. Despite this, only 20% of land on the planet has been visibly impacted by human activity, and only 15% of Earth’s land surface is formally under protection.
The remaining 80% of the land hosts natural ecosystems that help to purify air and water, recycle nutrients, enhance soil fertility, pollinate plants, and break down waste products. The value of maintaining these services to the human economy is worth trillions of U.S. dollars each year.
While some nations are not as big as they look on the map, every piece of land counts.
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