“The BBC reports on the detrimental effects of all of India being in one time zone since British Colonial rule,” writes Slashdot reader dryriver. From the report: India stretches 3,000km (1,864 miles) from east to west, spanning roughly 30 degrees longitude. This corresponds with a two-hour difference in mean solar times — the passage of time based on the position of the sun in the sky. The U.S. equivalent would be New York and Utah sharing one time zone. Except that in this case, it also affects more than a billion people — hundreds of millions of whom live in poverty. The school day starts at more or less the same time everywhere in India but children go to bed later and have reduced sleep in areas where the sun sets later. An hour’s delay in sunset time reduces children’s sleep by 30 minutes. Using data from the India Time Survey and the national Demographic and Health Survey, [Cornell University Economist] Maulik Jagnani found that school-going children exposed to later sunsets get fewer years of education, and are less likely to complete primary and middle school. He found evidence that suggested that sunset-induced sleep deprivation is more pronounced among the poor, especially in periods when households face severe financial constraints. “This might be because sleep environments among poor households are associated with noise, heat, mosquitoes, overcrowding, and overall uncomfortable physical conditions. The poor may lack the financial resources to invest in sleep-inducing goods like window shades, separate rooms, indoor beds and adjust their sleep schedules,” he told me.
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