From fortnightly napping to sleeping naked, and bedtime rituals to smelly sheets it would appear the cultural differences between countries extend into the bedroom.
The National Sleep Foundation has released its first international ‘Bedroom Poll’ that compared the amount of sleep, attitudes, habits and bedtime routines of people living across the United States, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany and Japan.
It discovered that while a third of Britons prefer to sleep naked, Germans have to air their bedrooms weekly to achieve a good night’s sleep and half of both Japanese and Americans take naps every two weeks to catch up on their shut eye.
The survey polled 1,500 people between the ages of 25 and 55 years old across the six countries.
Japan and the U.S reported getting the least amount of sleep, with an average of 6 hours and 22 minutes and 6 hours and 31 minutes of sleep, respectively.
Two-thirds of Japanese (66 per cent) said they sleep less than 7 hours on work nights, compared to 53 per cent of Americans, 39 per cent in the UK, 36 per cent of Germans, a third of Canadians and 29 per cent of Mexicans.
‘Although we know that everyone sleeps, the rather remarkable cultural differences within this universal experience have not been adequately explored.
‘It is NSF’s hope that this initial poll will inspire more research on this critical yet understudied topic.’ said Namni Goel from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
The study found that around half of all participants – an average of 45 per cent – reported they get a good night’s sleep every night, or almost every night of the week.
Yet in the UK, 27 per cent said they struggled to sleep on week nights, compared to a quarter of Americans and 23 per cent of Canadians.
Notably, one in ten in the UK (11 per cent) said they never get a good night’s sleep on work nights, twice the percentage of the other countries surveyed.
Jan Born, Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Tübingen, Germany said: ‘It is important to look at cultural differences in sleep, and not always to assume a U.S. focus.
‘Sleep is deeply inter-connected with health and performance, but it is often overlooked by researchers. This poll shows intriguing cultural variations on how we tackle this nightly, biological ritual.’
When the participants were asked what makes a good sleeping environment, 92 per cent of Mexicans and nine out of ten Germans agreed that they feel more relaxed when their bedroom has a ‘fresh, pleasant scent.’
This also explains why Germans like to air their rooms weekly.
Moreover, the majority of nationalities surveyed (between 65 per cent and 79 per cent) agreed they took steps to make sure their bedrooms smell the way they want.
‘Studies have shown that scent plays a powerful role in relaxation and memory-building,’ said David Cloud, National Sleep Foundation CEO.
‘Having a pleasant scent and a relaxing bedroom routine can contribute to a good night’s sleep.
‘No matter what your nationality, you will spend about a third of your life in bed. Fresh air and a pleasant scent are great ways to improve your sleep experience.’
Mexico ranked highest in the percentage of participants, around a quarter, who change their sheets more than once a week, while a third of people in Japan change their bedding around once every three weeks.
The poll also found cultural differences in the bedtime rituals and habits of the six countries.
For example, 62 per cent of Mexicans and nearly half of Americans (47 per cent) meditate or pray in the hour before sleep.
Four in ten Britons drink a ‘soothing beverage such as tea’ before bed.
And the most common bedtime ritual was found to be watching television, with around 80 per cent of people in all countries surveyed admitting to watching the box before bed.