Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A new international poll from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found stark differences in sleeping habits among residents of the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan for people between the ages of 25 and 55 years old.
While the Americans and Japanese in the study reported having the least amount of sleep during the week on average, Canadians and Mexicans reported the most, at just over seven hours per weeknight.
“As the first international public opinion poll on sleep, the National Sleep Foundation 2013 Bedroom Poll makes an important contribution to the field,” said Namni Goel, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the NSF 2013 International Bedroom Poll expert panel.
“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.”
The survey suggested that most people around the world – from the western Pacific to North America to Europe – are not getting enough sleep. Less than one-half of people in Mexico, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany report getting a good night’s sleep every night or almost every night on weeknights. Just over half of Japanese participants, 54 percent, said they consistently get a good night’s sleep.
When participants were asked if they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep during the week, the results were more worrisome – with about one-fourth of those in the UK, US or Canada admitting they rarely or never do. About one-in-ten Mexicans said they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep during the week.
“It is important to look at cultural differences in sleep, and not always to assume a U.S. focus,” said Jan Born, a professor of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Tübingen, Germany and a member of the NSF panel. “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.”
“This groundbreaking poll suggests that chronic sleep deprivation is a significant global health problem,” added panel member Russell Rosenberg, a director at NeuroTrials Research and former NSF chairman. “The National Sleep Foundation International Bedroom Poll compels us to conduct more research and devise unique solutions to get everyone to take sleep seriously. Relax, turn off the mobile phone and TV, and create a more pleasant bed time routine. Setting the stage for good sleep can change your life.”
Most survey participants said the smell of their bedroom has a major role in making them feel relaxed at bedtime. Seventy-eight percent or more of all participants said a pleasant bedroom smell makes them feel more relaxed. A majority of all participants said they take steps to give their bedroom a pleasant smell.
“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.”