Where in the World Do People Sleep the Best?
We all sleep, but we don’t all sleep the same. Have you ever wondered how sleep varies across the globe? Does the midnight sun keep people in Nordic countries from sleeping? Do people in Japan actually sleep well on the floor? Are Australians missing out on sleep because they’re worried about venomous spiders?
We wanted to know who’s getting the best sleep across the world, so we crunched data from 50 countries to figure out which have the healthiest sleep habits. Take a look at the map to see the results at a glance, and be sure to check out our findings and our methodology below.
What We Learned about the World's Sleep Habits
Who Gets the Worst Sleep?
Who sleeps the worst? The bottom 10 countries are:
- Saudi Arabia
- Costa Rica
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- Hong Kong
It seems that working hard doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping hard. Countries with longer workweeks actually ranked lower in our study. In fact, the top 20 countries all average fewer than 40 hours at work each week.
We assumed that countries with a healthier BMI would have better sleep; however, we also found that they have more difficult working conditions. The data found that even though harder-working countries had healthier BMIs, hours worked was the biggest factor in the number of hours of sleep the country averaged each night. To put it simply, those who work less seem to sleep better.
Who Gets the Best Sleep in the World?
If you feel like your sleep just isn’t cutting it, consider moving to Europe, the sleep champion of the world. European nations hold the top 13 spots for best sleep health, with the top 10 being:
Why is Europe sleeping so well? One thing that sets these countries apart is their higher GDP per capita. We’re not saying money helps you sleep better, but evidently, it doesn’t hurt.
Sayin “I Do” to More Sleep by Getting Married
The world is always changing around us, and a decline in marriage rates over the last 50 years is just one of those changes. But one of the unexpected consequences we found of fewer marriages is fewer hours of sleep. Our data suggests that countries who have seen a decline in marriages per 1,000 residents are getting less sleep. The one exception is Europe. European countries have seen a decline in marriages like the rest of the world, but their sleep is just as sound. It could be that their healthy work / life balance is just that good.
It May Be Time for a Night Cap
Using alcohol as a sleep aid has often been frowned upon in the medical community. However, liters of alcohol consumption positively correlated with hours of sleep, suggesting that countries that drink more get more sleep.
There does seem to be a sweet spot where drinking too much or too little is causing people to sleep less. Countries drinking between 8.9 and 12.7 liters of alcohol a year are getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Countries who drink above or below this threshold are actually getting worse sleep.
It’s a Sleep-Deprived World After All
On average, people in the world are sleeping just 6.5 hours a day. No wonder we’re all tired!
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) offers its recommendations for how long individuals should sleep every day. NSF says that adults ages 18 and up need the least sleep, and even they should be getting at least seven hours a night. That means that much of the world’s population isn’t getting the minimum amount of sleep they need to optimize their health.
Defining “sleep health” can be difficult, so we made our rankings based upon three factors: average hours in bed, average BMI, and average hours worked. After ranking each factor, we added them together to create each nation’s total “sleep health” score. In this case, a lower score resulted in a higher rank.
The first factor, average hours in bed, indicates whether individuals make sleep a priority or if they let other things get in the way. Average BMI, the second factor, serves as an indication of overall health and whether or not health is a priority. Since better health leads to better sleep, a healthier BMI improved ranking. The final factor, average hours worked, accounts for the effect of stress. Stress levels can severely impact sleep, so this number determines whether nations have a healthy work/life balance or if overworking might be affecting their rest.
Turns out the midnight sun isn’t much of a bother, as Nordic countries are getting some of the best sleep in the world; Japan is doing pretty well on the floor, coming in at the top half of our list; and Australians aren’t up at night worrying about the creepy crawlies, since they’re averaging over seven hours of sleep a night.
Wherever in the world you are, make sure you prioritize getting a great night’s sleep. Sweet dreams!