March 30, 2024 2 min read

Many factors influence the quality of your sleep: from the food you eat and how much you exercise to your general health and even your sleep environment. And according to the latest research, where you live can also determine how many hours of sleep you get.

Over the past few years, researchers have been able to estimate the amount of sleep different nations get using Big Data. Thanks to wearable devices that track sleep, scientists can now analyze objective sleep data on a larger scale than was previously possible. Several studies have reached similar findings regarding sleep differences between countries.
About the Studies
The studies in question analyze large data sets from wearable devices such as the Oura ring and smartwatches, as well as smartphone sleep apps.

One of the latest of these studies collected data from over 50 million nights in over 220,000 people across 35 countries [1]. It was published last year in the journal Sleep Medicine and carried out by researchers from Finland and Singapore.

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Nokia Bell Labs examined smartwatch data from 30,082 people in 11 countries. They published their findings last year in Scientific Reports [2].

Lastly, a 2016 study published in Science Advances looked at smartphone data from an app called ENTRAIN, which asked users about their sleep habits and recorded their hourly light and sleep schedules [3].
Top Most Well-Rested Countries
One trend we notice in all these studies is that developed countries — particularly those in Europe — slept better than people in developing economies, although there were plenty of exceptions to this rule. Countries that got the recommended 8 hours of sleep at night include:

New Zealand
Australia
Finland
The Netherlands
The UK
Ireland
Belgium
Switzerland
Germany
Canada
France
The Top Sleep-Deprived Nations
An interesting finding from all three studies is that people in Asia slept less, sometimes by as much as 45 minutes. They also went to bed at a later hour than those in Europe and particularly North America. And to make matters worse, they did not make up for their lack of sleep during the weekends. The top sleep-deprived countries according to the analyzed data were:

Japan
India
South Korea
Thailand
China
Philippines
Singapore

Other nations in need of better sleep are Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Brazil, with the US being somewhere in-between at an average of seven-and-a-half hours of sleep each night.
Why Different Nations Sleep Differently
Social, cultural, and economic factors account for 50% of these differences in a country’s sleep health. The teams analyzing these data suggest that wealthy countries where working longer hours and rigid work schedules were the norm tended to sleep less. They also noticed that countries with collectivist cultures tended to go to bed later and sleep less, possibly due to more family and other social obligations.


References:

Willoughby AR, Alikhani I, Karsikas M, Chua XY, Chee MWL. Country differences in nocturnal sleep variability: Observations from a large-scale, long-term sleep wearable study. Sleep Med. 2023;110:155-165. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2023.08.010

Park S, Zhunis A, Constantinides M, Aiello LM, Quercia D, Cha M. Social dimensions impact individual sleep quantity and quality. Sci Rep. 2023;13(1):9681. Published 2023 Jun 15. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-36762-5

Walch OJ, Cochran A, Forger DB. A global quantification of "normal" sleep schedules using smartphone data. Sci Adv. 2016;2(5):e1501705. Published 2016 May 6. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1501705



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