Today’s Culture with Travel post is by John Breese
More than 80% of Americans experience some sleep issues.
Can you imagine how many people around the world don’t get enough sleep?
Truly, we have forgotten what it’s like to sleep like a baby.
The good news is, each of us has their own remedies. And today, we will look at how people all over the world deal with insomnia and other sleep problems. Let’s use those tips to find our way back to the healthy rest!
Europe: Fresh Air, No PJs
Europeans are just as stressed as the rest of the world. Living in a fast-paced society, people have to
deal with regular pressure, deadlines, time management, and countless other issues. No wonder a huge part of Europeans belongs to that 50% of the world population who suffer from insomnia, chronic or occasional.
You are probably wondering, “How do Europeans deal with their sleep issues? What do they do to fight
Well, there are a few tricks and sleep habits:
- Fresh air. Europeans, especially Germans and Norwegians, love keeping their windows open
even during the night, and even when it’s frosty outside.
- Exercise (especially in the evening). This helps people feel more tired when going to bed, which
oftentimes helps them fall asleep.
- Sleeping pills. Unfortunately, the amount of money Europeans spend on sleeping pills keeps growing (especially in the UK). This remedy is so popular because it offers a fast solution to the problem.
- Sleeping naked. This practice is the most popular in England. People just feel like extra layers of fabric don’t let them relax completely.
- Drinking tea before bed. A warm beverage really helps with relaxation, especially if it’s a herbal tea.
- Drinking wine before bed. Usually, just a glass. Alcohol is a sedative and muscle relaxant, that’s why it helps people sleep.
- Taking a long, warm, relaxing bath. Again, warm baths help with both muscle and mind relaxation.
- Using two pillows. Europeans (unlike many other people) prefer sleeping on more than just one pillow to feel super comfy.
“Avoiding caffeine before bed and eating light foods can actually help you fall asleep easier, even if you are suffering from insomnia. Over-indulging in the evening can ruin your sleep regime and interrupt the sleep patterns.”
Asia: Naps and Gadgets
Asians are known for their hard work and resilience. However, another thing they are known for is sleep deprivation. The majority of Asians sleep for less than 7 hours every night. But how do they cope with it?
Here are some simple things people in Asia do to sleep better:
- They take naps. In Japan, the practice of “inemuri” (“sleeping while present”) helps people get some extra sleep. They take naps on their way to work, in public places, and during their lunch break.
- They drink chamomile tea and burn incenses. Asians know the secrets of the power of herbs and use them to sleep better. Relaxing incenses and calming teas are a very popular insomnia remedy. Plus, it is natural.
- They sleep on only one pillow. They are just used to it, unlike Europeans.
- The try to stick to the regime. Going to bed at the same time every day helps your body get used to the sleep schedule. It doesn’t work for everyone, of course, but it’s still a common practice in Asian countries.
- They use laptops and smartphones before bed (and in bed). Even though we are advised to avoid gadgets before bed, Asians (especially Japanese and Koreans) neglect this rule. Who knows, maybe scrolling through social media does help them relax.
“If you cannot sleep, simply lying in bed and worrying about it will not help. What you can do is get up and start doing something. Write in a journal, drink some tea, work, wash the dishes, try some of your clothes on… Whatever you decide to do, chances are it will make you feel a bit more tired. Which might actually help you fall asleep.”
Latin America: Meditation and Prayer
Just like any other part of the world, Latin America has its own issues. Including insomnia. It is said that around 72% of Latin Americans do not get enough sleep.
However, they are not giving up. Here are some of the things they do to deal with this issue:
- Avoid using gadgets before bed. They know how harmful for sleep the blue light our devices eliminate is.
- Meditate. It is said that around 60% of Mexicans meditate before bed. It helps them calm down and prepare for sleep.
- Pray before bed. This is a common practice in many Latin countries, especially Mexico. Praying before bed is a ritual that helps people calm their minds and feel more at ease before going to bed.
- Sleep on fresh sheets. People in Latin America change their sheets quite often (sometimes even more than once a week).
- Sleep without pillows or in hammocks. Sleeping in a hammock in the fresh air is very relaxing. And sleeping without a pillow helps people with spine alignment and allows them to relax their bodies.
“Getting yourself a comfortable bed is a necessity. When you are sleep deprived, lying on an old, saggy mattress can only make you feel worse. Once you invest in a new bed, your body will be able to relax better, which will lead to a much healthier sleep and more restful nights.”
Notes From Personal Experience
Whenever I travel somewhere, I always meet people who are tired and irritated. In the majority of cases, it’s because they are sleep deprived. And while some prefer to deal with their issues on their own, others are willing to learn as many helpful tricks as possible.
Here’s what I always advise them to do:
- If your schedule allows for it, sleep in two shifts. That’s what people used to do years ago, and they were healthier than us. If you cannot get your desired 8 hours of sleep during the night, try to catch them during the day. For instance, you managed to get only 3 or 4 hours of sleep during the night. If you have a chance later that day, go on your second sleep shift and try to get another 4 hours. This does not work for everyone, I understand. However, if you have a flexible schedule, this might be an effective solution. At least this way your body will manage to get enough rest.
- Use sounds and noise to your benefit. It can be a white noise machine or an app on your phone, whichever you prefer. Background sounds calm our mind and help us drift off. I personally enjoy using the Sleep Sounds app (by Relaxio). It has some nice, soothing nature sounds, which are great for relaxation.
- Try ASMR. Again, it does not work for everyone and might even seem weird to you. However, watching those videos on YouTube (or listening to them) might really relax you and make you drift off to sleep. If you don’t know, ASMR is an autonomous sensory meridian response, which basically is the state of relaxation and experiencing a pleasant tingly feeling in your body.
- Listening to audiobooks can also be very helpful. Just make sure you pick something neutral. For instance, avoid thrillers and detective stories, which have the potential to keep you up all night anticipating the next plot twist.
Now you have the wisdom of the world in your hands. You can try various methods and tricks, and hopefully, you will be able to get those desired 8 hours of sleep. Or even more, who knows!
John Breese is a professional sleep advisor. He consults people for sleeping and how to do it properly in order to get rid of health diseases and live a longer and happier life. John is also a big fan of traveling, and has been to 45 countries.