The Japanese are widely known for their long working hours and getting very little sleep when compared to rest of the world. This is because they are used to a culture of taking short naps while at work or commuting long hours to and from work. However, this does not stop them from being productive or getting a good and comfortable sleep.

As alarming as their sleep timings are, the surface they sleep on is fascinating too. Unlike many western countries, the Japanese sleep on the floor. They use thin cotton beds called futons. These beds are foldable and can be laid out wherever required. So, when it’s time to sleep, the beds come out and the Japanese get a full night’s sleep on a comparatively hard surface.

Many Japanese still follow the tradition of using Tatami mats for their flooring. These are woven straw mats used to line the floor of a room. The futon beds – either handmade or machine made in recent times, are laid on these Tatami mats in whichever angle they find comfortable.

Different From Westerners

So, how exactly are the Japanese sleeping habits different from that of the westerners? Read on to find out:

  • Mattress

    – As mentioned earlier, the Japanese prefer to sleep on futon beds that are made of cotton and are thin unlike the thick spring foam mattresses used by westerners.
  • Foldable Beds

    – The Japanese futon can be folded and put away inside a cupboard once they are done using it, unlike the big beds that are a permanent fixture in bedrooms in western countries.
  • Multi Purpose Rooms

    – In small Japanese apartments that have limited space, the living room doubles up as a bedroom at night. They lay a low table on the Tatami mats during the day and use this for meals and working. At nights the table is replaced with foldable futon beds.
  • Co-Sleeping

    – Japanese are open to co-sleeping with their children and use multiple futons, spaced out on the Tatami mats, to give everyone enough space. This is very different from western countries where children get their own rooms from a very young age.
  • Pillows

    – Traditional Japanese pillows are a little prickly and stuffed with buck wheat husks. These make a lot of noise when one tries to turn or shift around. On the other hand, western countries are known to use soft pillows, sometimes even stuffed with feathers for the “sinking” feeling when you lay your head on it.
  • Duvet

    – The traditional Japanese duvet known as kakefuton is made of silk fibers. These are thin but the silk helps in retaining the heat. Some people even use kimono-style duvets which can be worn to sleep.
  • Safety

    – Earthquakes are common in Japan and the futons prove to be safer than the western style beds. While the western-style big beds with a headboard and sturdy frames can be heavy to move around or even block passages, the futon can be easily moved away.
  • Inemuri

    – This is one of the most fascinating sleeping habits of the Japanese that can raise eyebrows in the west. Japanese get very little sleep when compared to the rest of the world, and this has them tired and sleep-deprived most of the time. In order to keep up with their commitments, they take a small nap as and when needed, at work.

These sleeping habits followed by the Japanese help them get a good sleep in the limited time they have. Read more about How Japanese sleep and why should we adopt their habits to know how we can benefit from their practices.