October 28, 2019

When it comes to sleep, “one size does NOT fit all.” The way the world sleeps is as diverse as the people in it. When you think of sleep, you picture an inviting room with a comfortable and cozy bed. Often due to socioeconomic status, many cultures don’t use a mattress at all. Turns out, there are actually a lot of cultural differences when it comes to sleep and things aren’t always as you’d expect.


Sleeping Arrangements

  • Bed Rolls- in the Japanese culture, many people sleep on a mat, referred to as tatami or futon, which is made from rice straw, wood boards, or a polystyrene foam. Rectangular in shape, they come in various sizes, and appear to look like a very thin mattress. 

  • Hammocks- hammocks are generally found in Central and South America. These slings are typically made of cloth, twine, and ropes and are utilized for “siestas” (naps). They’re widely used due to being above the ground, free from insects, snakes, and other creatures.


  • Netted Beds- netted beds are often found in areas that are prone to malaria disease, such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, or Uganda. They are simply beds that are surrounded by netting. Bed nets are made of strong polyester and multi-filament fibers and protect against mosquitos.


Cultural Sleep Facts:

  • In Scandinavia, infants often nap or sleep outside. Culturally, they believe that sleeping outside and being exposed to fresh air is a much healthier option
  • In some Asian countries, it’s common to take midday naps and sleep on the job. Many workplaces even have a designated “nap room” to get some shut eye and sleeping is not only expected but encouraged
  • Almost a third of people in the UK sleep nude! As we discussed in a previous blog, sleeping without clothes is actually beneficial since the human body has a natural process of regulating body temperature which clothing can often interfere with
  • Bedrooms serve as more than a place to sleep in many Arab countries. In Afghanistan, many families fold up their mattress each morning to make for more space for other activities
  • Australia is known for aboriginal communities where people sleep in large groups within one giant living space. Beds are arranged in rows, with the strongest member of the family sleeping on the perimeter and the younger or elderly towards the center of the group. This stems from a cultural belief that protection and togetherness is an important component for restful sleep
  • In Spain, children often go to sleep at the same time as the parents. This is often due to two cultural elements: siestas (long midday naps) and much later dinners (many times around 9PM)
  • In most of the world, babies and children sleep WITH their parents. However, in the United States, United Kingdom, and parts of Europe, they expect children to sleep in their own rooms
  • Many African countries do not adhere to a set sleep schedule and go to bed when they feel sleepy- no matter what time of the day it is

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