Do the Dutch sleep better than us?
We may have discovered why the Dutch are considered some of the happiest people on the planet – on average they sleep the longest of anyone else in the world.
A recent study conducted by Science Advances Magazine**, found that on average, the Dutch sleep approx. 8.2 hours per night. Now that may not seem like all that much, but if you look at the typical American who averages only 6.8 hours a night, the difference is plenty.
From personal experience, I can tell you – I have slept the best sleep of my life (since having a baby) whilst traveling through Holland. And yes, jet lag was involved. It took only a few days to make the adjustment, but when it was time for sleep, I would lay my head on the pillow and drift off into a deep, almost romantic sleep. When I woke in the mornings, I felt like my sleep had been designed by the sleep Gods. I woke up refreshed and energized, and excited to face the day.
When you consider just how important sleep is, and subsequently how important happiness is as well, what can we as Americans do to get more sleep? If we do as the Dutch do, the first step is putting away your screens. The Dutch have a ritual in which phones and TV’s are turned off nearly an hour before most other countries. There are also “claims” that their overall culture is the reason. The Dutch spend 1-2 hours each evening enjoying dinner with friends or family, having ample time to relax and unwind before crawling into bed.
Here is my theory that supports the Dutch sleep study – they know beds. And they know pillows, AND they know linens. Each AirBNB we visited had the most comfortable beds, made special with the softest linens. I was curious if this was simply a hotel thing, but soon I discussed the treatment with my Dutch colleague. He assured me that the Dutch treat their sleeping areas as sacred spaces – which means no watching TV in bed, no working from bed, no angry discussions in bed. Only sleeping, and yep – sex. They intend to keep their beds as intimate as they do their own daily lives, ensuring there is pleasure and enjoyment to sleep.
As our lives continue at a rapid pace, we tend to discount sleep as an important element to sustainability. Our personal sustainability that is. And now that companies have evolved to providing lifelong comfort from inventive mattresses that are both good for your body and environment, makes it easy for us Americans to do as the Dutch do -relax the mind, relax the body, and thus enjoy a more relaxed life. All in a good night’s sleep.
* *If you have an extra four hours read this – http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/5/e1501705
Wendy Hamacher, Portland, OR.
Mom, wife, world-traveler, blogger and word lover.