The Olympics are great. A real spectacle. They help us work out which nations are the best at all manner of sports, from pole vaulting to synchronised swimming. But what they don’t do is tell us which countries are best at the really important things – like sleeping for instance.
For sleep we must turn to data gathered from smartphone apps, which some boffin researchers at the University of Michigan have used to determine which countries get the most shuteye.
So join us now on a journey around the world’s best sleepers, from 10 down to one.
10. United States
Given their attachment to both long working hours and multiple cups of coffee, it may be unsurprising the United States doesn’t top the list. On average Americans get nearly eight minutes less than the recommended eight hours sleep a night.
What’s more, it’s thought up to one in three Americans will suffer from a sleep disorder in their lifetimes, with insomnia being the most likely culprit.
Italy may arguably have the best food in the world but Italians don’t get the most sleep. They fall short of the recommended eight hours by over seven minutes a night.
Fortunately many Italians make up the shortfall with a brief riposo during the early hours of the afternoon. Much like the Spanish siesta, the riposo sees businesses close during the midday heat, allowing their proprietors to get a little extra rest.
8. United Kingdom
Given the Brits reputation for being notoriously uptight when it comes to anything to do with nudity, it’s quite surprising to discover that a full third of Brits surveyed sleep in the nude.
What is less surprising considering the British weather is that 43 per cent of Brits have a relaxing warm drink, like a cup of tea, before hitting the sack.
Despite these two curious traditions, the British on average don’t quite make the recommended eight-hour mark, falling short by just over six minutes a night.
7. United Arab Emirates
Home to some of the world’s most expensive hotels the UAE must surely have some of the most luxurious beds on the planet. But of course a fancy bed doesn’t always translate to a good night’s sleep.
And in reality only a tiny proportion of the population has access to such extravagances anyway. For most living in the ever-changing cityscapes of modern day Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the hunt for sleep is as tricky as for the rest of us.
Folk from the UAE manage to get just over three minutes less than the recommended eight hours a night. Not bad really considering all that construction work going on!
The Canadians don’t quite make it to eight hours, either, failing by just under two minutes a night.
It’s no wonder Canadians like to hop out of bed that little bit early, so would I if I had pancakes and maple syrup waiting for me every morning!
Diminutive Belgium, home of the European Parliament, famous for waffles and Tin Tin, and now, known for getting the earliest bedtimes. Out of the data gathered researchers discovered that Belgian women were the earliest to hit the sack.
As a result of their early bedtimes Belgians get a full 90 seconds longer than the recommended eight hours kip a night. The first country on our list to do so.
It seems our friends Down Under spend a decent amount of time down under their duvets, with the national average 94 seconds over the recommended eight hours.
Despite rivalling their southern neighbours the Spanish for a late-night cafe lifestyle, the French still manage to put in the hard hours in bed, clocking in a 3 minutes and 19 seconds longer per night than the recommended eight hours.
2. New Zealand
Coming in at a respectable number two are our antipodean friends in New Zealand. The Kiwis get a very well deserved four minutes a night longer than the recommended eight hours.
There could be a number of reasons for their long nights. Maybe it’s isolation, all the fresh air they have, or it could be the kiwi fruit.
Don’t laugh! Researchers in Taiwan have discovered that eating one or two of the furry green fruit an hour before heading to bed was shown to increase the chance of a good night’s sleep.
The exact science behind this improved sleep is as yet clear, but it’s thought it could be something to do with the high levels of serotonin and anti-oxidants present in the potassium-rich super-fruit.
While they might not be quite the force they used to be when it comes to football, the Dutch do come out as number one when it comes to sleep. On average nappers in The Netherlands get over five minutes more than the recommended eight hours.
Exactly why is unknown. Maybe it’s something to do with what they are smoking over there!
So, there you have it, the top 10 nations on Earth when it comes to sleep. Did your country make it in the list?
If you struggle to meet your recommended eight hours there are many tips and techniques out there to help you improve the quality of your sleep, anything from choosing what to lay your head on, to changing your curtains or even your bedtime routine can have a huge impact.