I t is hard to imagine the scientific gain that can be obtained from a collection of tweets sent between…
I t is hard to imagine the scientific gain that can be obtained from a collection of tweets sent between 4 and 6, but a team of researchers at the University of Chicago has found one. They use the morning thumbnails sent by thousands of Americans to highlight the patterns behind why our society struggles with sleep loss as well as those in the country where it can be easier to fight its effects.
In a published paper Thursday, Cell, University of Chicago University Leader of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology Michael Rust, Ph.D., and his colleagues turned to anonymized Twitter data to help illuminate patterns of alertness throughout the country. He tells Inverse that they were looking for places where our internal “biological clock” is incorrect with the planning requirements for modern society. Although this difference between biological and social clocks has been known to bother astronauts on NASA missions, it is also close to home. This is sometimes referred to as “social jet lag” and is associated with poor health outcomes, including depression and cardiovascular disease.
“So we know we have an internal biological clock. If you do not have to set an alarm clock, it will be time to wake up and go to bed on some occasions,” says Rust. “It is now possible for people to work schedules that conflict with their internal rhythms. “
Rust’s study used Twitter data to determine these two schedules by analyzing people’s patterns of tweeting (called” tweetograms “) on weekdays and weekends
The difference between internal clocks and schedules people retain, as shown by their Twitter data.
Tweets are not a perfect way to calculate an internal clock, but Rust is not the first to turn Sign up for Twitter to collect data about human activity. He explains that the theory of using social media to explain the sleep pattern is that, first of all, it can solve the question of asking people to report their sleep, which is not always reliable. And secondly, it is a record of alertness – even if it is only for the short moment that it is written 240 characters.
His team research showed that there is about a 75-minute gap between most Americans’ internal clocks and the clocks determined by their schedules – almost as if we live in different time zones from ourselves. As an example of the team process, the paper illustrates data from four counties in New York, California, Louisiana and Minnesota, where tweet frequencies follow a similar curve, peaks around 12.00 and midnight and then bump into a “trunk”, usually early in the morning . To arrive at the final calculation, they applied this logic to 1,500 US counties.
The paper refers to these graphs as a tweetogram.
In the tweetograms, the West Coast tended to have longest periods of time where people did not tweeted – 5.5 hours in, for example, Orange Country, California. This may indicate that people follow a somewhat normal sleeping plan. The eastern coast, however, was less on schedule. Suffolk County, New York, as the paper says is a representative example, had only 4.4 hours of consolation. In Wayne County, Minnesota, the tweet break was only 3.6 hours. The team also noted that in counties with low tweeting activity there was a correlation with concurrent data from the CDC’s Monitoring Systems for Behavioral Factors: People in these places reported enough sleep.
To take it a step further, Rust used this analysis as a basis for calculating the number of minutes of social jetlags that people in these counties probably experienced, as demonstrated by their late night discussion habits. He did this by comparing the troughs on weekends (when most people usually choose their own awake hours, a loose approximation of what a biological clock can be) and weekdays.
That difference is what gave its approximation as most Americans experience 75 minutes of social jet storage. But again, the West Coast tended to show a less serious pattern: The Pacific Ocean Pacific had an average of 56 minutes of social jet lag, compared to Eastern and Central Time zones, where people had 77 minutes of social jet lag on average. Rost is not sure why this happens, but he may risk a guess:
“I’m tempted to speculate in one way or another with lifestyle and environment on the west coast, people are exposed to more daylight and this really helps their bells to be better suited to the sun, he says. “I do not know if it’s really true, but we know that the bright light coming from the sun is a very important cue for your inner rhythm,” he added.
So In short, he may speculate that it is not necessarily that the West Coasters do any major lifestyle changes to help align their internal clocks with the demands of modern life. Instead, the environment seems to help compensate for the balance that can continuously pluck the rest of us.