HOW THE WORLD SLEEPS: Sleep Customs From Different Cultures

HOW THE WORLD SLEEPS: Sleep Customs From Different Cultures

In North America, most people go to sleep at nighttime in their own beds, in their own bedrooms. This is not the case everywhere. In some cultures, people prefer to sleep outside, nap during the day, and use special idols to ward off bad dreams. Check out our list to see how different cultures around the world sleep: 

1. Mediterranean Siesta

Mediterranean siesta, sleep customs from around the world

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The word 'siesta' means 'an early afternoon nap' in Spanish. The siesta is most common, although certainly not limited to, the Mediterranean and South of Europe and traditionally takes place right after lunch, during the hottest part of the day. In Italy, where siesta's are still thriving today, it is not unusual to see shops, churches and museums closed midday so the proprietor can go home for lunch and his midday nap. Viva la siesta!

2. Guatemalan Worry Dolls

Guatemalan worry dolls, sleep customs from around the world

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Worry Dolls are small, handmade dolls originally found in Guatemala but can now be found in Mexico as well. The dolls originate from a Mayan legend in which the sun god gave a worry doll to a Mayan princess to help her solve any problem she may have. To use a worry doll, you tell it about all of your sorrow, fear, and worry and then put it under your pillow at night. The legend says that as you sleep, the worry doll will take away your sorrow and worry.

3. Japanese Public Naps

Japanese public naps, sleep customs from around the world

Photo Credit: BBC

In Japan, being a hard worker is held in high regard; which is why the practice of 'inemuri', or 'sleeping in public,' is not only a popular but also a seen as a respectable thing to do because, if you're sleeping on a train or in a cafe, you must be very busy at work and therefore very successful. Inemuri has been practised in Japan for more than 1000 years and is most common among white-collar men.

4. Central & South American Hammock

central and south american hammock, sleep customs from around the world

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A hammock, developed by the native inhabitants of Central and South America, is a sling suspended between two trees made of rope, netting or fabric used for sleeping or relaxation. They were and still are a popular choice for sleeping in these regions because, by suspending your bed above the ground, you are more protected from dangerous insects and snakes. They were also often used aboard ships to maximize sleeping space for sailors. Today, they serve as a universal symbol of relaxation and can be found all over the world.

5. Native-American Dreamcatchers

native american dreamcatchers, sleep customs from around the world

Photo Credit: @madelainedesign

A dreamcatcher is one of the most widely recognized Native American symbols in the world. It's a loose web woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects to be hung above your bed to protect against nightmares.

6. Scandinavia's Sub-Zero Outdoor Infant's Naps

scandinavia's sub-zero outdoor infant's napping, sleep customs from around the world

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The philosophy of this practice is simple: fresh air is good for babies. It is very common for Scandinavian parents to allow their infants to nap in their strollers outside year round. This practice is believed to decrease their exposure to germs enclosed indoors, promote exposure to nature and encourage a more active lifestyle, and, with both the cooler temperature and ambient sounds of the outdoors, help them sleep. 


Sleepenvie is a Canadian online mattress-in-a-box and bedroom lifestyle brand that focuses on customization, convenience, and charitable contribution.

We make the mattress-buying process easy by delivering it directly to your door in one easy-to-handle compact box. We strongly believe in customizability, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. An easy one-minute quiz matches you to the ideal mattress for your lifestyle and sleep habits.

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