Sleep deprivation

South Korea needs a good, long nap

July 21, 2014
July 21, 2014

In an effort to boost productivity during the summer months, the city of Seoul is encouraging government workers (paywall) to take a siesta of up to an hour. This might be a good model for the country, which appears to be the most sleep-deprived of the world’s developed economies.

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The most recent numbers from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the organization that crunches comparable data on the world’s developed economies, show that South Koreans sleep an average of 469 minutes (7.8 hours) a day. That’s the lowest among the 18 countries for which the OECD gathered data. The OECD average for shuteye is 502 minutes (8.4 hours). The French, who snooze the most among the rich nations, clock 530 minutes (8.8 hours) of sleep a night.

Why such a lack of sleep in Korea? Hard to say for sure, but the Korean propensity to log long work hours likely cuts into workers’ downtime. While that sounds admirable, the Korean workplace culture of rampant overtime and few vacations results in some of the worst levels of worker productivity among the advanced economies.

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