Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2024
The Polish way of sleep It is interesting to compare the way of sleep in other countries with what is more common in the UK. Take for instance Poland where during the communist era many people lived in apartments that were of limited floor area (30- 40m2 comprising living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom). This meant that for a family with children there was no room for a separate bedroom for the adults who therefore slept in the living room. This lack of space also meant that there was no space to have a dedicated bed, rather people slept on a sofa-bed (a wersalka). This combination piece of furniture unfortunately was neither a comfortable sofa nor a comfortable bed and it’s dual purpose also meant that it was of a limited size. This means that Poles of a certain generation have little concept of ‘comfort’ with regards to beds, being happy to ‘make do’. Poles seem to be able to pretty much sleep anywhere and regard almost any flat surface as a possible ‘bed’ with no regard to what I would consider even the minimum amount of comfort. This view of sleep is handy when you have guests as it means that even a modest house can accommodate a multitude of sleeping bodies. (Interestingly Polish hospitality dictates that guests are given the master bedroom to sleep in and the hosts sleep elsewhere). One of the other consequences of this style of living was the negotiation of ‘sleep’ within the apartment e.g. it is difficult to say you want to go to sleep when the rest of the family are sitting on your ‘bed’ watching the television. Therefore individual sleep needs and expectations had to be subsumed to the common good. Living conditions also meant that noise from neighbours and from the other occupants of the apartment were easily heard and this has resulted in a toleration of other people’s noise and the ability to seemingly sleep through sound levels that should really disturb sleep. As you can see whilst sleep is a universal phenomena and biological necessity in humans, cultural and societal influences play a large role in shaping the way we sleep.