By in Bedroom Furniture, Bedroom Ideas

How We Sleep: International Sleep Statistics

Since this month is officially National Bed Month 2015, we thought it would be appropriate to share some bedroom-related statistics…. The National Sleep Foundation International Bedroom Poll, though it was carried out in 2013, was the first to explore the differences in sleep and bedroom behaviour among six different countries across the world. It might be a rather “old” poll by today’s standards of constant information, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that sleep habits haven’t changed an awful lot in the past couple of years.

The six countries examined were:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Japan

Sleep Habits

Average Hours of Sleep

Unsurprisingly, it seems that all the countries slept an average of 45 minutes longer on non-workdays than workdays. Japan sleeps significantly less than the other countries every day, regardless of working periods – with an average of 6 hours 22 minutes on workdays and 7 hours 12 minutes on non-workdays. Though United States is a pretty close second by approximately 10 minutes both days.

Country Workdays Non-Workdays Total
US 6 hours 31 minutes 7 hours 22 minutes 13 hours 53 minutes
Canada 7 hours 3 minutes 7 hours 52 minutes 14 hours 55 minutes
Mexico 7 hours 6 minutes 7 hours 46 minutes 14 hours 52 minutes
UK 6 hours 49 minutes 7 hours 26 minutes 14 hours 15 minutes
Germany 7 hours 1 minute 8 hours 15 hours 1 minute
Japan 6 hours 22 minutes 7 hours 12 minutes 13 hours 34 minutes


A Good Night’s Sleep

This graph from the Sleep Foundation details the number of nights participants across each country can say “I had a good night’s sleep”:

A Good Night's Sleep Statistics

Out of a choice between “every night or almost every night”, “a few nights a week”, “rarely” and “never”, it seems that we in the UK get the least amount of good night’s sleeps with an astonishing 11% of those in the UK saying that they never get a good night’s sleep. In addition to this, further questioning shows that the 12% of the UK sample can never get to sleep quickly either. Meanwhile, in Mexico and Japan, they seem to be sleeping rather well. Mexico, in particular, as the additional research shows that less than 1% can never get to sleep quickly in contrast to the UK’s 12%.

What to Wear to Bed

It gets even more interesting when we take a look at what respondents wear to sleep most nights:

Sleep wear worn most nights USA Canada Mexico UK Germany Japan
With pajamas or something else 73% 77% 76% 56% 84% 91%
Without socks on 55% 43% 27% 32% 63% 61%
With socks on 16% 19% 10% 7% 7% 5%
With nothing on 12% 14% 12% 30% 9%
Don’t know / Refused 1% <1% 4% <1%

It seems that in the USA and Canada, they’re significantly more likely to wear socks to bed. But… where it gets really shocking is that the UK is over twice as likely to wear nothing to bed at all than any other country polled. A staggering 30% of UK respondents claimed to sleep in the nude; a huge contrast to Japan where 91% wear pajamas or some other kind of dedicated sleep wear.

Bedroom Environment

Number of Pillows

Next, let’s take a bizarre look at where we sleep: pillows. How many is too many? What’s the mean number of pillows per country?

Number of pillows USA Canada Mexico UK Germany Japan
None 1% 2% 10% <1% 2% 8%
1 – 2 pillows 73% 75% 72% 80% 84% 88%
3+ 26% 23% 18% 20% 14% 3%
Mean # of pillows 2.2 2 1.7 2.1 1.6 1.1

Boy, we sure do love our pillows in the United Kingdom! Along with in the USA and Canada, we have to sleep with at least two pillows! Meanwhile, in Japan, it’s practically unheard of to sleep with more than 1. Even two pillows, only 9% of those polled in Japan said that they sleep with two. In fact, more people choose to sleep on no pillows at all rather than 3 or more. Whereas in the UK, less than 1% sleep with no pillow. 1 in 10 of those polled in Mexico sleep with no pillows at all most nights. So, how is it that they are able to out-sleep the rest of us and get such a good night’s sleep?!

Airing out the Bedroom

It seems that the United States aren’t fans of airing out their bedroom, with 30% of US respondents admitting to airing out their bedroom less often than every three weeks. Whilst in Germany, 100% of those interviewed claim to air out their bedroom at least once a week.

Air Out Bedroom Statistics

Changing Bed Sheets

When it comes to changing the bed sheets though, the US are more likely to do so at least once a week (62%). The majority of German respondents change their bed sheets at least every other week but notably, 28% of those questioned in Japan change their sheets less often than every three weeks. Mexico are yet again in the lead, with 81% stating that they change their sheets at least once a week.

Changing Bed Sheets statistics

Going to Sleep

When we take a look at the sorts of activities done every night (or almost every night) within the hour before sleep, we can cross reference how different countries choose to spend the hour before their bed time and how quickly they go to bed as well as how well they sleep.

Activity USA Canada Mexico UK Germany Japan
Watched TV 73% 68% 80% 68% 67% 66%
Used computer/laptop/tablet 51% 57% 32% 57% 25% 65%
Meditated or prayed 47% 34% 62% 11% 14% 5%
Used their phone 34% 45% 36% 37% 30% 38%
Took a warm bath or shower 33% 48% 59% 39% 20% 35%
Read a print book/magazine 26% 34% 36% 42% 32% 26%
Use scented lotion 19% 24% 35% 14% 8% 8%
Had a soothing beverage 13% 26% 30% 43% 11% 26%
Listened to music 13% 25% 30% 21% 18% 21%
Used a relaxing scent 10% 16% 18% 10% 6% 6%
Did yoga 8% 12% 13% 4% 7% 8%
Used aromatherapy 5% 11% 10% 5% 4% 4%

It seems that watching TV is the world’s favourite way of spending the hour before bed time. As far as the computer, laptop, tablet and phone usage goes… I think these statistics would have changed significantly in the past two years due to the increase of smartphone penetration and the way in which we use our mobile devices and the internet these days.

Prayer and meditation before bed is also interesting to look at. Only 5% of Japanese respondents said that they pray or meditate before bed, in comparison to 62% of the Mexican and 47% of the American.

For more data from the 2013 International Bedroom Poll, you can visit Sleep Foundation’s official website:

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