SynopsisEach person spends about a third of his or her life asleep. Sleeping habits, however, differ, depending on age, life situation or nationality. Together with sleep expert Dr. Michael Feld, we examine how different cultures approach sleep and sleep disorders.
Germans are famous for their discipline and efficiency. But these virtues require concessions in regard to sleep. Germans get up especially early; in fact they are the earliest risers in all of Europe. At the same time, people tend to go to bed at later times. Permanent artificial light and smart phones prevent us from getting the rest we need. Night has become day. But what happens when we ignore the day-night rhythm nature demands and what repercussions does this have for our health?
We visit Germany’s first “Nap Café”, where stressed urbanites recuperate during their lunch breaks, and test whether a night in a cornfield is really as romantic as most Germans think it is.
The Japanese are less demanding when it comes to selecting their sleeping spots. They sleep less during the night than Europeans do as well. But they also have a different attitude when it comes to sleep. In Tokyo, lack of sleep and chronic fatigue is part of every day life. However, the Japanese tend to take naps more often during the day: in the subway, in the office, in school.
How tired are Japanese office workers, students and young parents? What do they need in order to sleep well? We visit one of the best futon masters in Japan, accompany young Tokyoites to a capsule hotel and let people show us where one can sleep for less than 10 Euro in the middle of Tokyo.
An important reason for the widespread sleep deficiency in Spain is the typical Spanish life style with its late lavish meals, an extensive nightlife and the habit of watching television late into the night. Eating, going out and sleeping at different times than most others do is part of Spanish identity.
The Siesta, however, the traditional mid-day nap, is on the retreat and less and less Spaniards are able to enjoy it. Other factors, which deprive Spaniards of sleep, are economic worries, a repercussion of the recent economic crisis, or environmental factors like noise pollution. Spain is one of the loudest countries in the world.
On our search for the causes of Spanish sleep deficiency we jump into the pulsating Spanish nightlife, visit a family in rural Chinchon, meet an office worker in Madrid for lunch and accompany an actress with a sleep disorder through the night.
New York –the city that never sleeps.
Indeed, New Yorkers don’t get a lot of sleep. However, this is not so much due to the extensive nightlife but rather due to the bright lights illuminating streets and billboards, which then find their way into the city’s bedrooms and disturb people’s sleep. And yet every other person in NYC is already in bed by 11pm. Americans work a lot. A 50-hour workweek is the norm. And many New Yorkers put a lot of emphasis on fitness and sports, often getting up for exercise as early as 5 am. The young generation attends morning raves and dances with soft drinks in hand into the morning hours, only to proceed to university or the office, wide-awake. But the hectic and stressful work life in the United States comes at a price: The U.S. has one of the highest rates of sleeping pill consumption in the world. Many get sick due to a permanently disturbed day-night rhythm.
Also in France, the average amount of sleep a person gets has decreased over the past years. The French sleep only about 7 hours a night during workdays. Only during the weekends they get to enjoy a little more than 8 hours. Especially French youth appear to get too little sleep. Almost a third of 15 – 19 year olds are believed to be chronically fatigued - an alarming trend that doesn’t fit at all to France’s relaxed Savoir-Vivre reputation. After all, Paris is known worldwide as the City of Love. We check into a couples hotel and visit the former bedroom of Christian Dior, together with a wedding planer. In addition, we will examine the connection between sleep and alcohol, sleep and being overweight and children’s sleep.