Differences in cultures can often be seen in how we celebrate, how we interact, how we enjoy food, and how we connect with our family. But, did you know that something as simple and essential as sleep also varies from one culture to another?
The differences in sleeping habits can be pretty extreme for some states, but it’s still about the rest we get from dozing off at the end of it all.
Siestas of Spain
One of the most popular cultural sleeping habits is how Spaniards enjoy taking a nap in the early afternoon, often right after lunch. This is known as a Siesta.
Siestas started as a way for farmers to rest during noon, as the sun is too high and the climate is too hot for them to work. Napping is one of the ways for them to buy time.
Although modern workplaces do not practice Siesta anymore, around 20% of the Spanish population still try to take their early afternoon naps.
The same practice of having extended lunch breaks is also practised in Italy – they call this Riposo. During these hours, businesses even go as far as closing their stores so that they could fully enjoy their midday snooze.
Inemuri in Japan
When you think about the stereotypes placed on Japanese people, you often think of their typical hardworking salaryman. There’s some truth to that, as the Japanese people are known to work long hours.
Because of how much labour they exert in a day, it’s become perfectly acceptable in Japan’s culture to take a nap when needed, even in the workplace. If you fall asleep on your train ride home, that’s fine in Japan!
Sleeping in public is all too familiar in Japan; they even have a word for it – “Inemuri”. The word inemuri simply means “sleeping whilst present”.
To our surprise, sleeping at work in Japan isn’t even a sign that you’re an irresponsible employee – Japanese people even take it as a sign that you’ve worked hard and you best deserved that short nap.
Australia’s Aboriginal community
Even Australians have sleep habits that are unique to them. In Aboriginal communities, families would often sleep together instead of having their rooms.
Indigenous co-sleeping isn’t closed off to just one family; instead, it’s quite common to sleep together with other community members as this leaves an impression of safety.
In these communal sleeping sites, beds are lined up in a long row with the stronger members and leaders of the community sleeping on the extreme ends. In contrast, the elderly and children sleep toward the centre of the group.
United Kingdom’s birthday suits
There’s nothing wrong with sleeping naked, especially on a hot day. In fact, it can actually be quite comfortable as it helps cool your body better and helps you avoid the restrictions of clothing.
But, sleeping in the nude isn’t as common, especially in more conservative cultures. Brits, on the other hand, enjoy this and find it quite an acceptable way of sleeping.
A study from the National Sleep Foundation finds that almost a third of people living in the United Kingdom prefer to sleep in the nude. That’s the highest percentage of nude sleepers in the world.
Babies sleeping outdoors
Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway have a rather unusual way of letting their little ones sleep. They leave them outdoors, even during the winter season.
Parents believe that having their young children exposed to fresh air from the outdoors would help prevent their child from getting sick and raise their immunity. Some sleep experts even say the fresh air helps them get a deeper sleep.
It’s not uncommon for parents in these Scandinavian countries to leave their children outside in their strollers while they dine or run errands.
Mexico’s prayer warriors
Mexico is known to be one of the most prominent Catholic countries in the Americas, with almost 90% of their population identifying as Catholic.
With that number of people practising religion, it comes as no surprise that Mexican culture incorporates bedtime prayers before sleep.
A study from the National Sleep Foundation reports that almost a third of Mexico’s population either prayed or meditated before bed as a part of their nighttime ritual. That’s way more than any country in the world.
America’s love for animals
Having your pet sleep beside you in your bed is a subject that can be pretty divisive in different cultures, but Americans have a strong opinion on this.
People in the US believe that having a cat or a dog sleeping in your bed is not something to worry about at all. Almost seventy percent of American pet owners let their furry friends sleep beside them.
Germans and their duvets
When sleeping with your partner, one of the things that can wake you up in the middle of the night is being bothered by your partner pulling and hogging the blanket.
German couples don’t usually encounter this problem. What’s their secret? Couples sharing beds have their own personal-sized duvets. These duvets are called daunendecke, and they’re used to keep you warm without having to share your blanket.
Worry dolls of Guatemala
Did the boogeyman ever scare you as a kid? If you live in Guatemala, you don’t need to worry about the boogeyman.
Parents in Guatemala give their children little “worry dolls” which serve as their companion as they go to bed. Children would often whisper to these dolls to ease their troubles and anxieties and place them under their pillows right before they sleep.
Using worry dolls dates back to the Mayan culture and is believed to give sweet dreams and aid in providing a good night’s sleep. It’s also said to protect you from harm’s way, so no boogeymen in sight.