Iowa Sleep Blog

Sleep Around the World

Monday, April 27, 2015

We all know sleep is important, and we should aim to get eight hours of uninterrupted shut-eye each night. But what you may not know, is how sleep is approached by other individuals across the globe. Each country has different sleep habits and traditions that are based in years and history. For example, did you know that in Japan, it is common for most workers partake in inemuri, or napping on the job? Historically, inemuri, is intended to show how exhausted a person is from working so hard. Something to also consider: the people of Japan highly value hard work, so they work long hours. This leads to the average person only sleeping 6 hours and 15 minutes each night.

Here are eight facts about sleep habits and customs around the world:


  • Spaniards seem to go to bed later than anyone else – at 12:15 a.m. during the week and 12:53 a.m. on weekends. Spaniards, along with many other Mediterranean countries, observe afternoon siesta, or daytime naps where many shops and business stop operating in the early afternoon.
  • In the U.K., one third of people sleep in the nude.

North America:

  • In Mexico, 62 percent of sleepers mediate or pray in the hour before going to bed.
  • 75 percent of people in Germany, Mexico, The U.K. and the U.S. say they feel more relaxed if their bedroom has a fresh, pleasant scent.

Asia and Australia:

  • Studies have shown individuals in Tokyo, Japan sleep five hours and forty-five minutes each night, one of the lowest averages in the world.
  • One third of people in the U.S sleep on king-sized mattresses, while in South Korea, one third of people sleep on the floor.
  • People in China get the most sleep, a reported 9 hours each day- maybe their widely accepted practice of sleeping in public helps.
  • Early to bed, early to rise works for Australians, as almost 20 percent of people awake before 5 a.m. during the week or on the weekends.

You may have guessed that there are similarities in sleep habits across countries and continents, too. In any part of the world, the most common before bed activity is watching TV, followed by using computers or tablets, then cell phone use. On the other hand, 63 percent of women report reading before they fall asleep. The best night of sleep for many countries was found to be on Wednesday nights.

While the approaches to sleep are different, it is still extremely important to overall wellbeing. If you have a trip coming up, be sure to check into the different customs that might exist. You wouldn’t want to be trying to do some shopping in Spain during siesta time and find all the shops closed, or be taken by surprise when you find your bed set up on the floor in South Korea.

If you are experiencing difficulties sleeping at night, reach out to a sleep doctor at Iowa Sleep. Our skilled professionals will help get your sleep schedule back on track and provide support along the way.