12 Unique Sleeping Habits Around the World

iStock.com/YinYang
iStock.com/YinYang

Want to take naps at work without getting into trouble? Move to Japan. The practice of inemuri—which roughly translates to “sleeping on duty” or “sleeping while present”—is surprisingly well accepted.

It’s just one of the unique sleeping habits featured in a new infographic from Plank by Brooklyn Bedding. Created in recognition of National Sleep Awareness Month (which is happening right now), it includes information about sleeping patterns and behaviors around the world, from the healthy to the not-so-healthy.

Japan appears in the infographic a couple of times. In addition to sleeping on thin tatami mats, the habit of dozing off in public or at work is regarded as “a show of how tired a person is from working so hard,” according to the bedding company. While it’s certainly a symptom of an overworked culture, it’s also a luxury in some ways. Because of the country’s low crime rate, Japanese commuters can typically sleep on the subway without worrying about their belongings being stolen.

Beyond Asia, the practice of “al fresco naps” in Scandinavian countries are another cultural quirk. Many parents take their babies and toddlers outside to sleep in the winter—even in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s because the fresh air is believed to keep them healthy and ward off illness. They also believe outdoor naps improve the quality and duration of their sleep.

In Australia, Aboriginal communities engage in “group sleep”—essentially large slumber parties, but with a more practical purpose. “Beds or mattresses are lined up in a row with the strongest people sleeping on the ends, protecting young children or elderly in the middle,” Brooklyn Bedding writes.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about sleep habits around the world, including the reason why 30 percent of people in the UK sleep naked.

A sleep habits infographic
Plank by Brooklyn Bedding

This Cooling Weighted Blanket Helps You Sleep Soundly Without Overheating

Research has shown that weighted blankets, originally made for kids with anxiety and sensory processing issues, may also alleviate stress and anxiety in adults as well. But if you're someone who gets hot easily, sleeping beneath a heavy blanket at night may feel uncomfortable. The Hush Iced, a cooling version of the popular Hush blanket, is designed to change that.

One of the most common complaints Hush Blankets received from customers after releasing its original weighted blanket was that it made users too hot. So the team at Hush tweaked the outer material to make it friendlier to people who are prone to overheating while still providing the soothing deep-touch pressure of a weighted blanket.

The new Hush Iced, currently raising money on Kickstarter, comes with a special ultra-cooling cover. The thin bamboo and cotton fabric wicks away sweat and helps maintain your body temperature through the night. Inside is Hush's classic weighted blanket, with weight distribution technology that helps you feel relaxed and secure in bed. If you already have a Hush weighted blanket at home, the cooling cover is also available separately.

The Hush Iced weigh 15 to 25 pounds, and comes in standard (48-by-78-inch) and queen (60-by-80-inch) sizes. (Generally, Hush recommends choosing the weight of your blanket based on body weight—check out the Hush site for more information on selecting the right one.)

Buy it on Kickstarter starting at $128. The cooling cover is available on its own for $39.

Chronic Pain Happens Differently in Men and Women

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Women often feel colder than men due to physical differences. Now, a new study shows that the two sexes have different biological processes underlying a specific kind of pain, too. As WIRED reports, research published in the journal Brain revealed that different cells and proteins were activated in men and women with neuropathic pain—a condition that is often chronic, with symptoms including a burning or shooting sensation. While scientists say further research is needed, these findings could potentially change the way we treat conditions involving chronic pain.

A team of Texas-based neurologists and neuroscientists looked for RNA expressions in the sensory neurons of spinal tumors that had been removed from eight women and 18 men. Some of the patients had pain as a result of nerve compression, while others had not experienced any chronic pain. While studying the neurons of women with pain, researchers noticed that protein-like molecules called neuropeptides, which modulate neurons, were highly activated. For the men, immune system cells called macrophages were most active.

"This represents the first direct human evidence that pain seems to be as sex-dependent in its underlying biology in humans as we have been suggesting for a while now, based on experiments in mice," Jeffrey Mogil, a professor of pain studies at Montreal's McGill University, who was not involved in the Brain study, tells WIRED.

So what exactly do these new findings mean for sufferers of chronic pain? Considering that clinical trials and drug manufacturers have traditionally failed to distinguish between the sexes when it comes to developing pain medication, the study could potentially form a foundation for sex-specific pain therapies that could prove more effective. This might be especially promising for women, who are more likely to have some condition that cause persistent pain, such as migraines or fibromyalgia.

"I think that 10 years from now, when I look back at how papers I've published have had an impact, this one will stick out," Dr. Ted Price, a neuroscience professor and one of the paper's authors, said in a statement. "I hope by then that we are designing clinical trials better considering sex as a biological variable, and that we understand how chronic pain is driven differently in men and women."

[h/t WIRED]

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