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Sleeping habits around the world

While we live in an increasingly globalised world, people still tend to sleep very differently in different countries. The diversity of sleeping habits around the world can reflect attitudes towards health, work-life balance, relationship to the environment, and a myriad of other cultural values. Check out some of the unusual and interesting ways people sleep, it may even introduce you to a new habit to incorporate into your own bedtime routine.

Japan

In Japan, the habit of falling asleep in public, whether that is on the train or even in the middle of a meeting, is actually revered. Called inemuri, or ‘sleeping while present,’ it is a sign that people have worked themselves so hard that they have exhausted themselves. It may be praised as a sign of a person’s industriousness.

Botswana and Zaire

Members of the !Kung tribe and the Efe tribe, hunter-gatherers from Botswana and Zaire respectively, sleep when they feel tired. This could be at any time of day for any length of time, rather than in recurring blocks. While this system may not be fully compatible with current expectations in Western countries, the act of listening to your body to give it the sleep it needs is a sure-fire way to prevent fatigue.

Spain and Latin America

The popularity of the famous siesta has waned in recent years as Spain has become more urbanised. Nevertheless, an afternoon rest break, especially when kept short, can improve productivity. Interestingly, the afternoon power nap has sprung up in Silicon Valley, where employees are encouraged to use sleep pods to help them remain refreshed.

Australia

Some Aboriginal peoples practice co-sleeping, where they line up their mattresses or swags in a line called a ‘yunta.’ This practice can maximise the safety of the group, especially by protecting the most vulnerable members sleeping in the centre.

China

In China, it’s a popular belief that a firm bed supports the alignment of the back, promoting better sleep, a belief shared by many around the world. Some Chinese factories have also been blurring the lines between workplace and bedroom, encouraging employees to utilise in-house sleeping and washing facilities to maximise productivity.

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