Sleepless In Asia

Young adults in Asia get the least sleep worldwide due to cultural habits, according to a study by an international team of scientists.

AsianScientist (Aug. 28, 2019) – Young adults in Asia get the least sleep due to cultural habits, according to findings by an international team of scientists. Their research is published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

A lack of sleep can take its toll on the body. However, the number of hours of sleep needed by people of different ages, ethnicity, cultural backgrounds and occupations remains unclear.

In this study, scientists led by Professor Michael Gradisar at Flinders University, Australia, with collaborators at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Finnish company, Polar, compared the sleeping habits of 17,335 people wearing fitness trackers to measure their 14 day sleep patterns. They paid particular attention to sleep duration, sleep midpoint and weekend catch up in study participants aged 16-30.

They observed that differences in sleep durations shift dramatically throughout adolescence and stabilize near 30 years of age around the world. There were also clear differences between females and males throughout adolescence and young adulthood, with girls sleeping earlier and having longer durations of sleep than boys.

“In recent decades, there have been reports of delayed sleep in young people, characterized by very late bedtimes, and difficulties waking up in the morning at a socially-appropriate time. As sleep is a central element in functioning, health and wellbeing, the reliable detection of sleep patterns is a key interest,” Gradisar explained.

The results also show that location matters, with people in the Middle East, Asia and Southern Europe getting significantly less sleep compared to everyone else.

“Young adults in Asia had the shortest sleep duration (6hr 30 min), whereas those in Oceania (7hr 14 min) and Europe (7hr 7 min) had the longest. Young adults in Central and Southern America and the Middle East also reported short sleep (6hr 40min),” said Gradisar, citing higher work and educational demands in Asian countries compared to the west.

The findings suggest that cultural factors likely impinge upon the sleep opportunity of young people around the world, the researchers concluded.

The article can be found at: Kuula et al. (2019) Using Big Data to Explore Worldwide Trends in Objective Sleep in the Transition to Adulthood.


Source: Flinders University; Photo: Ben Mills/Wikimedia Commons/CC0.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist