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Peculiar sleep habits from around the world

Life’s essentials are rarely simple. We need to eat and we need shelter. But we’d rather create sensory haute cuisine or mesmerising architecture to fulfil our needs. Innovating, iterating and improving our daily lives lasts us a lifetime.

So it is also the same with sleep. Across the world, it’s rarely as simple as shutting your eyes. Esoteric sleep habits are just one of the nuances that make global travel so fascinating.

We travel the world to source the finest fabrics and artisan craftsmanship. It’d be remiss of us not to have a curious look into the cultural differences in sleeping, too. You never know, you might learn a trick to try yourself.

Afternoon riposo in Italy

In the Western world, we often wear our ‘busyness’ as a badge of honour. Not so for the Italians, who prioritise relaxation and quality time above productivity alone. Similar to the Spanish siesta, riposo is an extra long lunch break that’s a deeply embedded part of culture. 1pm to 4pm is a cherished time to rejuvenate and, perhaps, rest those heavy eyes too. Then start work again feeling far more refreshed and energetic than you would with an afternoon triple shot.


Al fresco infant naps in Norway

Sleep-deprived (and zombified) new parents will know how precious newborn rest is. Perhaps they could try this Norwegian trick. Research from Finland University suggests putting a pram outside in sub-zero temperatures encourages better daytime sleeping for longer lengths of time. Scandi parents also feel the bitingly cold fresh air promotes better health for their young ones (providing they’re well wrapped up of course).


Sleeping on the job in America and China

Demanding work schedules and an expectation to be constantly contactable have a dramatic impact on modern sleep patterns. Companies in the US have stepped in with a solution. Google introduced space age sleep pods with built-in relaxing music. Nike’s Portland headquarters have a similar sleep and meditation room. In China, city nap capsules are increasingly common, too. But in a world where the lines of work and home are more blurred than ever, cynics might say this only serves to keep employees chained at their desk whatever the hour.


Worry dolls in Guatemala

We’ve all been frustrated by trying to fall asleep only to have incessant reflections from the day running through our heads. Indigenous Guatemalans tackle this with the worry doll. Made from wood or wire, Mayan legend suggests the worried sleeper should tell their concerns to as many dolls as necessary, then sleep with the doll under their pillow to awaken feeling liberated.


Intimacy and inemuri in Japan

Sleep is seen as an important way to foster intimacy and closeness in Japan. Not unlike the traditional baths or onsens, sleep is seen as a way to bond. You’d likely share a room on a work trip, for example. Inemuri is another way Japanese use sleep to enhance their daily lives. By taking naps in public, it’s a way of increasing productivity without disengaging with their surroundings or situation. The literal translation is ‘sleeping while present’.