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TV Beats the Sun

Who loves the sun? Not everyone

Academics Daniel Hamermesh, Caitlin Knowles Myers and Mark Pocock, writing in the Journal of Labor Economics, say most of us don’t really notice our home star as much as the television in our living rooms.

The sun doesn’t matter much to sleep and work schedules, said Myers. "People don’t seem to respond to when the sun rises and sun sets. We found that what TV zone you’re in really matters and what time zone really matters."

Their paper, "Cues for Timing and Coordination: Latitude, Letterman, and Longitude," found that moving West left one more likely to go to bed and wake up earlier. In the Central zone, people were 7 percent more likely to be awake at 7 a.m. than those living in the Eastern zone. Each zone shift west doubled the likelihood you were more likely to be awake at 7 a.m.

The TV zone you’re in matters more. At 7 a.m., people in the center of the country — Mountain and Central time, the earlier television zones — are 23 percent more likely to be awake than people on the East Coast.

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"For people in the center of the country, TV lets them go to bed earlier, wake up earlier and go to work earlier," said Myers. Prime-time television ends at 10 p.m. in the middle of country, rather than 11 p.m. on the coasts, she said, driving people to bed as they snap off the tube.

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