A town that sleeps like it's pre-industrial times


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You don’t have to go to Brazil to find farmers, and this same pattern is pretty much worldwide. Farmers don’t party until dawn, it interferes with chores.

The outlink on the story itself doesn’t go to the intended link, but to a 404 page, FYI.

…and then was heard, in the fading light of the day: “'Twas but a ruse! There is no article, go to sleep and stop reading articles about other people getting more sleep than you!” And a Pesco clicked his heels and disappeared off into the night.


‘Post-industrial’ farmers don’t go to bed early- they switch on the lights of their combine harvesters and work through the night.

There’s a lot of night-shift working on the indoor side of farming as well- packing & processing etc. for example.

Maybe so, I’ve only ever known small-time dairy farmers, more or less family size.

They go to bed late and get up early as there is so much work to do!

I thought this was going to be about sleeping in two chunks, as people supposedly did prior to th 19th century. The actual timing of sleep is a bit less interesting to me, though I admittedly did not read the article owing to the broken link. I wonder what outcomes they observed.

Where are you getting this information? What farmers have you known? Do you have a resource? Thanks.

Here is the press release from the University of Surrey which says much of what is said in the BoingBoing post. Here is the link to the actual study in Scientific Reports.

People’s preferred wake up and go to sleep times were 45min to an hour earlier in the rural population vs. the urban. There is no distribution of times instead they show the distribution of an MEQ (Morningness-Evening Questionaire score) for rural, urban and vs. London that might correlate (take a quiz to find your own MEQ here). A 41 and below MEQ indicates more evening types, 59 and above indicates more “morningness”.

Finally they show that morningness increases with age and is 48% heritable when adjusted for age and sex and 38% heritable when adjusted for those things and residential zone.

Yes, I lived a decade in western Maryland. Pure anecdote.

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A Brazilian friend suggests that the rural/urban difference is likely to be particularly pronounced in this area of Brazil, as they have a daylight saving scheme that means it’s light by 6am and dark at 6pm in the summer.

It seems bizarre to me that a region with (pretty much) 12 hours of daylight all year round would feel the need to have daylight saving time at all.

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Okay, so you know some people because you lived in a state. That’s nice. Not what I asked, though…

So anyway, you don’t really know, you just assume.

I wonder if they controlled for the effect of the sleep cycle versus the effect of actually doing physical work for a living? I imagine that “working a farm instead of spending the whole day planted in front of a computer screen” must have at least as profound an impact on things like cardiovascular health than what time people go to bed.

Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me what I don’t know. Anything else?

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