Sleep Habits Around the World

Tue, Sep 29, 2009

Q&ASleep Habits

We all sleep: at home, in hotels, in camps, on boats, in vilages, in all cities, in all states, in all provinces, in all territories, in all countries, and n all continents, even on pacecrafts. Do we know how well do people in different countries sleep? Do they have the same sleep problems than people in other countries? How much time do people spend sleeping in different countries?

Here what has been discovered:

Sleep researchers from Canada, Greece,  and Japan were searching for the answers to these questions by surveying over 35,000 people in 10 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and South Africa. Well developed questionnaires have been given to all study participants, with about 40 years on average, on March 2002. People have been asked to answer many questions regarding their sleep habits, quality of sleep, and if anything they did to help them to fall asleep. 


In many countries daily nap is called “Siesta”. A siesta is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in some countries, particularly those where the weather is warm. The word siesta is Spanish, from the Latin hora sexta – “the sixth hour” (counting from dawn, therefore noon, hence “midday rest”). The siesta is the traditional daytime sleep of Spain, and through Spanish influence, of many Latin American countries. (Wikipedia)

Napping was the most common sleep habit in many countries:

  • In Brazil, 42.4% of the people said that they took regular naps
  • In Japan, only 12.0% of the people took regular naps
  • Naps lasted from about 40 to 60 minutes or more in most countries.

Poor sleep affects many people in all countries:

  • Belgium had the highest numbers (32.2%) of people who said that they did not sleep well
  • Austria (10.4%), Germany (16.2%) and Portugal (16.3%) had the lowest numbers of people who did not sleep well
  • The symptoms of poor sleep included:
    • awakening at night
    • poor functioning during the day
    • sleepiness during the day
    • a reduced sense of well-being during the day.

Two tables below represent (1) Total Sleep Duration and (2) Reporting Poor Sleep:


Sleep Remedies:

Various remedies were used to manage sleep problems:

  • About 30% of all people surveyed said they visited a doctor about their sleep problem
  • More than 5t0% of those with sleep problems in Portugal visited a doctor
  • Only 8.0% of the people in Japan visited a doctor
  • 15% people in Japan  and about 10% in Austria used medication to help sleep
  • About 50% people in Portugal  and South Africa often used sleep medications
  • Other treatments to improve sleep included:
    • Herbal teas (most common in Slovakia; least common in Japan)
    • Alcohol (most common in Japan; least common in Austria)
    • Altered tea/coffee consumption (most common in Austria; least common in Japan)

Sleep problems become a global issue. In general, about 25% of people in those 10 countries think that they do not sleep well. The researchers also conlcuded that sleep disorders may be even more common due to the fact that some people do not report sleep problems because they think that their sleep problems are normal.

Word “Sleep
Word for “Sleep” Language
Sleep English
Sommeil French
Slaap Dutch
Schlaf German
Sonno Italian
Sono Portuguese
Sueno Spanish
How to say Sleep in different languages:
(please also refere to the “Languages” page above




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