Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?


Recent studies have shown residents of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are sleeping better, living longer, and rating themselves as feeling happier than the populations of many other countries. But why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?

An article published on SleepJunkie in 2019 compares the work-life balance and sleeping habits of different countries across the world. In this study, working hours, minimum annual leave, good sleep, happiness rating, sleep difficulty score, and life expectancy all played a role in determining which countries rank where. Denmark ranks number 3 on their list, followed by Norway at number 4, and Sweden at number 6.

The U.S., however, comes in at a sad number 87 on this list. Considering the significant gap between these countries’ quality of living, Americans can certainly take some advice from the Scandanavians.

Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?
Keep it dark

Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?
But why are Scandinavians sleeping so well? In our post, we discuss the philosophy of living “lagom” as well as tips for sleeping the Scandinavian way.

What is the Lagom Lifestyle?

Related: Norwegian Invention Automatically Rocks the Cradle

The lagom lifestyle
Lagom is a Swedish term for “just the right amount,” and the philosophy of lagom revolves around balance. Many people relate living lagom to taking the Goldilocks approach to life— having not too little or too much and living in moderation.

While living lagom applies to all facets of life, keeping this philosophy in mind while assessing your sleeping habits can help you pinpoint areas for improvement that don’t require buying a whole new mattress or visiting a sleep specialist. Let’s talk about the simple tricks Scandinavians swear by to get a better night’s sleep.

Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?
Two duvet system, separate split comforter

Sleep with Double Duvets
Sleeping with two duvets is now coined as sleeping “the Scandinavian way.” If you share your mattress with a partner, opting for two twin duvets instead of one large comforter can help both you and your partner get undisturbed rest. Recent studies have found that couples who sleep in the same bed with the same comforter have their sleep interrupted 30% more than couples who sleep apart.

Related: Hästens – the Swedish Dream Factory 

While many couples don’t want to sleep in a whole separate bed than their partner — as two beds take up ample space and can be costly — sleeping with two duvets can be just as effective. And to truly sleep the Scandinavian way, ditch the top sheet, too. Top sheets can keep you warm, but extra bedding can cause disturbed sleep, and investing in two twin bed sets merely for a flat sheet costs you unnecessary money. Instead, choose a seasonal duvet that allows you to modify its thickness and coziness for the summer and winter months.

Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?
Assessing your sleeping habits can help you pinpoint areas for improvement that don’t require buying a whole new mattress or visiting a sleep specialist

Sleeping with double duvets helps you get better sleep because it eliminates the tug of war most couples play with their comforters and bed sheets. If you share the bed with a blanket hog, you’re probably familiar with this battle.

Plus, having your own duvet allows you to toss and turn and readjust as much as you want throughout the night without disturbing your partner. If you’re an especially cold or hot sleeper, having the freedom to modify your duvet as you deem fit helps you get the most comfortable sleep, too. If your partner is cozied up with a thick duvet on one side of the bed, a hot sleeper can still get good rest with a thinner, more breathable duvet on their side of the mattress.

Related: In Bed With a Norwegian

Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?
Having your own duvet allows you to toss and turn and readjust as much as you want throughout the night without disturbing your partner

Be Mindful of Pajamas
Wearing too thick of pajamas can lead to overheating and night sweats. Even if you turn the thermostat down to a chilly 60 degrees, sleeping in flannel pajamas can cause your internal temperature to rise. This can lead to sleepers kicking off the blankets or waking up in a puddle of their own sweat— which is not necessarily conducive for a good night’s sleep.

For a better night’s rest, choose lighter, more breathable pajamas. Pajamas made from cotton or linen are ideal for keeping you warm in the winter months but cool in the summer months.

Cut the Lights
Light in any form can impede sleep. While it’s a given that staring at your cell phone in the hours leading up to bedtime isn’t the best habit, lights from devices such as alarm clocks can mess with your sleep, too. To sleep the Scandinavian way, make your bedroom as dark as it possibly can be (without causing you to stub your toe and trip during a middle-of-the-night bathroom break).

Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?
Sleep myths. Image: Sleep Council GB

To truly eliminate all light, keep electronic devices such as televisions, laptops, tablets, and cell phones out of the bedroom, as they all emit sleep-hindering blue light. We also recommend unplugging any nightlights and covering up any light coming from your alarm clock.  It doesn’t hurt to invest in black-out curtains, too, as they prevent early morning sunlight from waking you up at the crack of dawn.

Eliminate Clutter
A messy bedroom can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress, especially if the clutter is laundry that needs to be folded and homework that needs to be finished. Keep your room free of anything that does not contribute to a good night’s rest. Walking into a  clean, clutter-free bedroom at the end of the night keeps you in a relaxed state and helps you drift off to sleep peacefully.

Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well?
Waking up fresh

Make Your Bedroom a Haven for Sleep
In addition to eliminating clutter, there are steps you can take to make your bedroom more soothing for sleep. Following the lagom philosophy, and using Swedish decor for inspiration, you can easily create a calm, stress-free sleeping space.

Your bedroom should have pale colors, think white and light grey, and be simple in design. Trying to squeeze too much furniture into one room can create chaos in and of itself. Your comforters and bedding should be neutral in color, also, as bright colors can elicit emotions not conducive to sleep.

With these tips, you’ll be sleeping like a Scandinavian in no time!

Why Do Scandinavians Sleep So Well? written for Daily Scandinavian by the editorial team at SleepJunkie