Americans aren’t the only ones skimping on sleep. According to a new poll by the National Sleep Foundation, which compared dozing habits among residents in six countries, respondents in Japan reported getting even less shut eye each night than people in the U.S.
The poll, which surveyed 1,500 people between the ages of 25 and 55 in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Mexico and Japan, found that the Japanese reported an average sleep time of only 6 hours and 22 minutes, while Americans averaged 6 hours and 31 minutes. Mexico ranked the highest with an average of 7 hours and 3 minutes of sleep during the work week. To catch up on missed sleep, more than half of respondents in the U.S. and Japan said they take naps every two weeks.
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Bedtime rituals play an important role in sleep as well. The most common one: watching television, with around 80 per cent of people in all countries surveyed acknowledging doing so before hitting the sack. Another routine is prayer: 62 percent of Mexicans and 47 percent of Americans meditate or pray before bed. Additionally, 40 percent of Britons said they drink a soothing beverage like tea before bedtime and a third regularly sleep in the buff.
Scent plays an important role in sleep as well. Some 92 percent of Mexicans, 90 percent of Germans, 78 percent of Americans and 86 percent in the U.K. attribute a relaxing bedroom to a “fresh, pleasant scent.” David Cloud, National Sleep Foundation CEO, in a statement, “studies have shown that scent plays a powerful role in relaxation and memory-building,” adding, “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.”
Researchers emphasize the poll is an important step in looking at the cultural differences in sleep, as often studies are framed with a U.S. focus. “Sleep is deeply inter-connected with health and performance, but it is often overlooked by researchers,” said Jan Born, Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Tübingen, Germany. “This poll shows intriguing cultural variations on how we tackle this nightly, biological ritual.”