José María Martín Olalla, a professor at the University of Seville, in a paper published in Scientific Reports, said his analysis of European laborers’ daily activities and sources of social synchronization showed that people tend to do things based on latitudinal patterns tied to the light/dark cycle. In other words, people ‘memorize’ the shortest photoperiod (daytime) of the year, and base their activities from there.
Olalla’s surveys of 17 European and two American countries also showed that winter sunrise (the later sunrise of the year, which increases with higher latitude) promotes human activity in the morning, like waking up, leaving home and starting one’s work. All these happen earlier with decreasing latitude. On the other hand, winter sunset (the year’s earliest sunset, which occurs earlier with increasing latitude) determines when laborers stop working, head for home, and have supper. Olalia revealed that winter sunset delays time by another hour from 54 to 40 degrees latitude.
The study also noted two other important points. Lunchtime activities are linked to meridional behavior (tied to noon) and to a latitudinal trend which affects timing of the winter sunset. People take their lunch earlier as latitude increases. On the other hand, people delay lunch as latitude decreases, since natural light doesn’t fade away that quickly at this point. The study also showed that at night, indoor activities like watching primetime television and bedtime are not tied to the winter sunset. They are based on meridional behavior or the winter sunrise.
Indirectly, the study looked at the role time zones and advancing time played in human activities. France, Belgium, and Spain advance their clocks an hour earlier than their physical time zones. This means people offset the advanced timing of the clock by delaying schedules and keeping up with the LD cycle. While this does not do any harm, it tends to make time comparisons vary from country to country, depending on the latitude involved. (Related: 4 Natural Tips to keep your body on track during Daylight Savings Time.)
Changing time zones can be extra challenging for long-distance travelers whose body clock must adjust to changing sunrise and sunset patterns. They must deal with jet lag and the sleeplessness, irritability, and confusion that go with it.
Here are some tips for dealing with jet lag.
As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. You’ll have to adjust your body clock. But you’ll meet new people and see new places along the way.
Read more articles about how nature affects both body and mind at MindBodyScience.news.