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.
As the Worlds Turn: Visualizing the Rotation of Planets
Rotation can have a big influence on a planet’s habitability. These animations show how each planet in the solar system moves to its own distinct rhythm.
As the Worlds Turn: Visualizing the Rotations of Planets
The rotation of planets have a dramatic effect on their potential habitability.
Dr. James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese space agency who has the creative ability to visually communicate space concepts like the speed of light and the vastness of the solar system, recently animated a video showing cross sections of different planets spinning at their own pace on one giant globe.
Cosmic Moves: The Rotation of the Planets
Each planet in the solar system moves to its own rhythm. The giant gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) spin more rapidly on their axes than the inner planets. The sun itself rotates slowly, only once a month.
|Planet||Rotation Periods (relative to stars)|
The planets all revolve around the sun in the same direction and in virtually the same plane. In addition, they all rotate in the same general direction, with the exceptions of Venus and Uranus.
In the following animation, their respective rotation speeds are compared directly:
The most visually striking result of planetary spin is on Jupiter, which has the fastest rotation in the solar system. Massive storms of frozen ammonia grains whip across the surface of the gas giant at speeds of 340 miles (550 km) per hour.
Interestingly, the patterns of each planet’s rotation can help in revealing whether they can support life or not.
Rotation and Habitability
As a fish in water is not aware it is wet, so it goes for humans and the atmosphere around us.
New research reveals that the rate at which a planet spins is an essential component for supporting life. Not only does rotation control the length of day and night, bit it influences atmospheric wind patterns and the formation of clouds.
The radiation the Earth receives from the Sun concentrates at the equator. The Sun heats the air in this region until it rises up through the atmosphere and moves towards the poles of the planet where it cools. This cool air falls through the atmosphere and flows back towards the equator.
This process is known as a Hadley cell, and atmospheres can have multiple cells:
A planet with a quick rotation forms Hadley cells at low latitudes into different bands that encircle the planet. Clouds become prominent at tropical regions, which reflect a proportion of the light back into space.
For a planet in a tighter orbit around its star, the radiation received from the star is much more extreme. This decreases the temperature difference between the equator and the poles, ultimately weakening Hadley cells. The result is fewer clouds in tropical regions available to protect the planet from intense heat, making the planet uninhabitable.
Slow Rotators: More Habitable
If a planet rotates slower, then the Hadley cells can expand to encircle the entire world. This is because the difference in temperature between the day and night side of the planet creates larger atmospheric circulation.
Slow rotation makes days and nights longer, such that half of the planet bathes in light from the sun for an extended period of time. Simultaneously, the night side of the planet is able to cool down.
This difference in temperature is large enough to cause the warm air from the day side to flow to the night side. This movement of air allows more clouds to form around a planet’s equator, protecting the surface from harmful space radiation, encouraging the possibility for the right conditions for life to form.
The Hunt for Habitable Planets
Measuring the rotation of planets is difficult with a telescope, so another good proxy would be to measure the level of heat emitted from a planet.
An infrared telescope can measure the heat emitted from a planet’s clouds that formed over its equator. An unusually low temperature at the hottest location on the planet could indicate that the planet is potentially a habitable slow rotator.
Of course, even if a planet’s rotation speed is just right, many other conditions come into play. The rotation of planets is just another piece in the puzzle in identifying the next Earth.
Visualizing the U.S. Airports with the Worst Flight Delays
With flight travel more than tripling in the past 30 years, we break down the most notorious airports in the U.S. with the worst flight delays.
Visualizing the U.S. Airports with the Worst Flight Delays
They say good things come to those who wait. In the case of flight passengers, however, some may be waiting much longer than others.
With frequent flights comes frequent problems. Unexpected travel irritations, delays, and cancellations are all common issues faced by flyers the world over. Correspondingly, certain airports have developed a reputation for making their passengers wait.
Today’s interactive chart from USAFacts shows the percentage of flights delayed, as well as the average length of those delays, at U.S. airports between October 2018 and September 2019.
The Top 10 Airports With the Longest Delays
In the worst airports across the country, over 25% of all flights get delayed. Here is a list of the top offenders based on percentage of flights delayed and the average delay, according to flight data.
|Rank||City||Airport||Percent of Flights Arriving Late||Average Delay Across Flights|
|#1||Newark||Newark Liberty International||26.5%||22 minutes|
|#2||New York||LaGuardia||24.5%||19.6 minutes|
|#3||Chicago||Chicago O'Hare International||25.5%||19.2 minutes|
|#4||Boston||Logan International||22%||17.3 minutes|
|#5||Dallas||Dallas/Fort Worth International||23.3%||16.5 minutes|
|#6||San Francisco||San Francisco International||22.4%||16.2 minutes|
|#7||Fort Lauderdale||Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International||21.9%||16.3 minutes|
|#8||Denver||Denver International||21.6%||15.3 minutes|
|#9||Miami||Miami International||21.6%||15.3 minutes|
|#10||Chicago||Chicago Midway||22%||13.4 minutes|
Newark Liberty International takes the top spot, with 26.5% of all flights taking off late. To make matters worse, it also had the longest average delay time, at 22 minutes per flight. The runner-up is another New York-based airport, LaGuardia, averaging close to 20 minutes per flight delay.
The third worst offender was Chicago O’Hare International airport, where over a quarter of flights arrived late, with an average delay of 19 minutes. Chicago O’Hare International saw more flights than Newark and LaGuardia combined, making average delays more costly.
What’s Behind These Major Flight Delays?
While the New York area hosts two of the worst airports in the country, flight delays are exacerbated by a number of regional factors.
First, it hosts one of the busiest air corridors worldwide. As a result, any unexpected interruption or delay has an outsized effect on flights arriving at their destination on time.
Coupled with this is the commanding presence of United Airlines. As one of the largest airlines in the world, it operates over 401 daily flights at Newark airport. Additionally, United has been known to have operational issues. For example, in June 2019, significant aircraft problems led the Newark airport to suspend flights altogether.
There are four major causes of flight delays: poor weather conditions, late aircraft, carrier related (such as baggage, fueling, or maintenance problems), and airspace system issues.
According to this data, it’s clear that late aircraft is the most prevalent cause for flight delays that ended up being longer than 15 minutes.
Late aircraft creates a domino effect: when an airplane arrives late at an airport, a following flight that uses the same aircraft will depart behind schedule. In peak months such as July, this contributes to nearly 50% of flight delays.
Worst Months of the Year to Fly
The number of flights on U.S. airlines has more than tripled, from 275 million flights in 1978 to 889 million in 2018.
Along with this, flight activity is typically highest in the summer—coinciding with July’s highest average flight delay of 76 minutes. Months in the summer followed suit, with June averaging 72 minutes per delay and August having an average delay of 71 minutes, among flights that were delayed over 15 minutes.
|Month||Rank||Average Delay (in minutes)|
Perhaps surprisingly, flights in December bucked this trend. Even as a flight-heavy month, average long delays hovered around 60 minutes during the holiday season.
The 10 U.S. Airports with the Fewest Delays
By comparison, a number of airports appear to have avoided this trap. Data below shows the top airports in the U.S. with the fewest flight delays during the same time period.
|Rank||City||Airport||Percent of Flights Arriving Late||Average Delay Across Flights|
|#1||Honolulu||Daniel K Inouye International||10.5%||6.8 minutes|
|#2||Anchorage||Ted Stevens Anchorage International||11%||7.1 minutes|
|#3||Lihue||Lihue Airport||10.1%||7.7 minutes|
|#4||Long Beach||Long Beach Airport||12.6%||8.4 minutes|
|#5||Sacramento||Sacramento International||14%||8.6 minutes|
|#6||Kahului||Kahului Airport||12.7%||8.9 minutes|
|#7||Portland||Portland International||13.8%||9 minutes|
|#8||San Jose||Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International||14.9%||9.2 minutes|
|#9||Salt Lake City||Salt Lake City International||13.3%||9.7 minutes|
|#10||Santa Ana||John Wayne Airport-Orange County||14.7%||9.8 minutes|
As the volume of air travel continues to climb, it is clear that some airports underperform others by a wide margin. To break the vicious cycle of delays, it will be vital for airports to get initial flights departing on time in the first place.
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