Time Well Spent

How do people in different countries spend the 24 hours we are all allotted each day? A recent survey divided a day’s activities between sleep, work, eating and leisure time, and found some surprising differences. Among the countries studied, South Koreans sleep the least—averaging 7 hours and 51 minutes a day. Americans sleep an average of 8 hours and 48 minutes, while the Chinese sleep a world-leading 9 hours and 2 minutes, on average.

There are some remarkable differences in the time spent on paid work. If you factor in vacations, holidays and weekends (times when many people do no paid work at all), China’s workers average 5.25 hours per day, ahead of the Mexicans who work an average of just over 5 hours a day.

Italians, on the other end of the spectrum, take copious holidays, which brings their average paid work time spent down to just 2.5 hours averaged over the course of a year. It may not be surprising that Italians are among the world leaders in leisure time, with an average of 5.4 hours a day, just behind the roughly 6 hours a day for Norwegians and Greeks. Americans, meanwhile, lead the world in the least amount of time spent eating and drinking, with just over an hour a day. The French (surprise!) spend the most time on their meals, at more than two hours a day.

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