5 strange sleeping habits and traditions from around the world

Sleeping is a universal human activity that we all take part in. But did you know, the seemingly straightforward act of sleep is as unique as the cultures and countries in which it takes place?

Here are 5 strange sleeping habits and traditions from around the world.


The lines between the bedroom and the workplace are becoming increasingly blurred in China, thanks to it’s booming technology sector and long-hours culture.

At Huawei, like many of China’s multinational companies, employees are encouraged to nap in their office so they can work late into the night.

Following lunch in the canteen, staff will return to their desks where they will pull out camping beds and dim the lights before napping for up to an hour at a time.

Some companies have even installed permanent beds and washing facilities to cater for employees who stay round-the-clock during the working week.


In most countries, falling asleep at your desk at work would be an embarrassing blip, but not in Japan.

The hectic work/life balance of the Japanese means many white-collar workers have taken to inemuri, the art of “being present while sleeping”. 

Thanks to inemuri, Japanese workers can nap at their desk or even in business meetings without fearing a disciplinary.  In fact, falling asleep at work is commonly seen as a sign of commitment or dedication to hard work.

With the average Japanese worker sleeping for just six hours 22 minutes a night – less than any other country, is it any wonder they feel the need to nap?


While the Spanish have siesta, the Italians have riposo – an afternoon nap taken after a long lunch break.

Dating back thousands of years, historians believe this tradition originated to give farmers and agricultural workers time to rest while outside temperatures were at their highest.

Even today, many shops and businesses in Italy close for up to 3 hours in the afternoon so workers can rest and sit down for meal with family and friends. Following a well-deserved nap, workers will then return to work at about 4pm when temperatures are much cooler. 


Would you put your baby or toddler outside in the freezing cold for their daytime nap? 

For parents in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, this age-old tradition is a normal part of everyday life.

Wonder through Stockholm on a snowy day and you’ll often see prams parked up outside coffee shops while parents drink their lattes inside. Scandinavian nurseries play their part too, with many taking the children outdoors for daytime naps in temperatures as low as -20C.

The theory behind outdoor napping is that it exposes children to fresh air, building up their immune systems and making them less likely to catch coughs and colds had they spent the day confined to a room with 29 other children.

And there is some evidence to support this, with research by Marjo Tourula of the University of Oulu, Finland suggesting that outdoor napping not only promotes a better quality of sleep, but it also increases the duration of time a child is asleep.


Night time is for sleeping and day time is for living, correct? Not in Botswana, where sleeping patterns don’t apply.

Botswana’s native !Kung hunter-gatherer tribe only sleep when they are tired, regardless of whether it is day or night.

The tribe are known for their practise of polyphasic sleeping or having multiple sleeping sessions over a 24-hour period. And without the constrains of a western 9 – 5, who can blame them?

Do you know of any unusual sleep habits or rituals? Let us know in the comments below.

Bensons for Beds

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