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Short sleep on work nights common

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© iStockphoto.com / Jacob Wackerhausen © iStockphoto.com / Jacob Wackerhausen

FRIDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Sleep culture seems to vary depending on where you live, according to an international survey.

For example, people in the United States and Japan get less shuteye than those in Canada, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

The survey results showed that Americans and Japanese sleep 30 to 40 minutes less on work nights than people in the other countries, averaging six hours and 31 minutes and six hours and 22 minutes, respectively.

The National Sleep Foundation survey found that about two-thirds of Japanese people (66 percent) sleep less than seven hours on work nights, compared to about half of Americans (53 percent) and about one-third of people in the United Kingdom (39 percent), Germany (36 percent), Canada (30 percent) and Mexico (29 percent).

In addition, about 21 percent of Americans said they slept less than six hours on work nights, compared with 19 percent of Japanese, 18 percent of Britons, 11 percent of Mexicans, 10 percent of Germans and 7 percent of Canadians.

Perhaps to make up for all that lost sleep on work nights, 51 percent of Americans and Japanese said they took at least one daytime nap in the past two weeks. People in every country surveyed said they slept in on weekends, with an average of 45 minutes of extra sleep.

Among the other findings:

- The percentage of people who said they get a good night's sleep every night or almost every night on work nights or weeknights was 54 percent in Japan, 48 percent in Mexico, 44 percent in the United States, 43 percent in Canada, 42 percent in the United Kingdom and 40 percent in Germany.

- About 31 percent of people in Japan said they rarely or never woke up when they needed to during the workweek, which is about twice the rate of all the other countries in the survey. This suggests that they might not be getting adequate sleep, the researchers said in a news release from the National Sleep Foundation.

- About nine out of 10 people in Mexico (92 percent), Germany (90 percent) and the United Kingdom (86 percent) and 78 percent of those in the United States and Canada said they feel more relaxed if their bedroom has a pleasant scent.

- The majority of people in all the countries (65 percent to 79 percent) said they take steps to make sure their bedroom smells fresh. "Studies have shown that scent plays a powerful role in relaxation and memory-building," David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, said in the news release. "Having a pleasant scent and a relaxing bedroom routine can contribute to a good night's sleep. No matter what your nationality, you will spend about a third of your life in bed. Fresh air and a pleasant scent are great ways to improve your sleep experience."

The survey uncovered cultural differences in the bedtime rituals and habits of the six countries. For example, 62 percent of Mexicans and nearly 47 percent of Americans meditate or pray in the hour before sleep. In the United Kingdom, 43 percent drink a soothing beverage, such as tea, before bed and 30 percent said they sleep naked.

Television viewing was the most common pre-sleep activity. Between 66 percent and 80 percent of people in all the countries surveyed said they watched TV in the hour before going to bed.

"As the first international public opinion poll on sleep, the National Sleep Foundation 2013 Bedroom Poll makes an important contribution to the field," Namni Goel, a research associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the expert panel, said in the news release.

"Although we know that everyone sleeps, the rather remarkable cultural differences within this universal experience have not been adequately explored," she said. "It is [the National Sleep Foundation's] hope that this initial poll will inspire more research on this critical yet understudied topic."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about sleep.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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