Among the residents of the industrialised nations included in a recent study on sleeping patterns, the Dutch came out on top, averaging 8 hours and 12 minutes of sleep each night. The shortest sleepers where the Japanese and Singaporeans who spent on average, 7 hours and 24 minutes sleeping a night. Swiss spend 7 hours and 55 minutes under the covers, a little bit above the average.
While the study of 5,500 participants shows sleep time differences that might appear insignificant, every half hour of sleep can have a big impact on mental performance and long term health.
The times people go to bed and rise vary too. On average Swiss go to bed a little after 11pm and get up shortly before 7am. Spanish by contrast go to bed just before midnight and rise a bit before a quarter to eight. The earliest risers were Americans (between 6:45 and 7:00am), and the earliest to bed were Australians (between 10:45 and 11:00pm).
One of the authors of the study, Daniel Forger says, it appears that society determines when we go to bed but our internal clocks decide when we wake up. This means that if we go to bed late, we won’t get enough sleep.
Of course we need to get up to go to work or take the kids to school, but these are not the only reasons behind why we get up when we do. Our natural biological clocks play a big role, and genetics has an impact on this. Certain people naturally need less sleep, while some need to go to bed early and get up early. These things need to be taken into account says Daniel Forger.
There are other differences too. Women sleep 30 minutes longer than men, especially between the ages of 30 and 60 years old. Middle-aged men sleep the least, often less than the 7 to 8 hours recommended. And people who spend their days outdoors tend to go to bed earlier.
Another of the authors, Olivia Walch, points out that insufficient sleep can induce a state similar to being drunk, reducing mental performance and leading people to overestimate their capabilities.
Being Spanish and living in America could be dangerous.