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Why is South Korea so sleep deprived?


South Korea is known for its fast-paced lifestyle and hardworking mentality, but it also has a reputation for being one of the most sleep-deprived countries in the world. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind South Korea’s sleep deprivation problem and its impact on the country’s economy, health, and society.

Cultural Factors

South Koreans are known for their strong work ethic and long working hours. Many Koreans work 12-16 hour days, which leaves little time for rest and relaxation. Additionally, social norms dictate that employees should not leave work until their boss does, regardless of how much work they have left to do.

Technological Advances

South Korea is home to some of the world’s most advanced technology, which has made life more convenient but also more stressful. Smartphones and other devices have made it easier for Koreans to stay connected with their work, even when they’re not in the office.

Academic Pressure

South Korean students are known for their intense study habits and high academic expectations. Many students attend after-school programs or private tutoring sessions that can last until late at night, leaving little time for sleep.

Medical Conditions

Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders are common in South Korea. These conditions can cause disruptions in sleep patterns and lead to chronic sleep deprivation.

Nightlife Culture

South Korea’s nightlife culture is vibrant and lively, with many bars and clubs staying open until early in the morning. This can make it difficult for people to maintain healthy sleep habits.

Caffeine Consumption

South Koreans are some of the highest consumers of coffee in the world. While caffeine can help people stay alert during the day, consuming too much can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to insomnia.

Stressful Living Conditions

South Korea is a densely populated country with high levels of pollution and noise. These factors can make it difficult for people to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Working Mothers

More women are entering the workforce in South Korea, which means that many working mothers are juggling their careers with childcare responsibilities. This can lead to disrupted sleep patterns and chronic sleep deprivation.


Many South Koreans use public transportation to commute to work or school, which can be crowded and uncomfortable. This can make it difficult for people to get enough rest while traveling.

Mental Health Issues

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are common in South Korea. These conditions can cause disruptions in sleep patterns and lead to chronic sleep deprivation.

Impact on Society

South Korea’s sleep deprivation problem has serious consequences for its economy, health, and society. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to decreased productivity, increased accidents, and a higher risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.


In conclusion, South Korea’s sleep deprivation problem is caused by a combination of cultural factors, technological advances, medical conditions, and lifestyle choices. Addressing this issue will require a multi-faceted approach that includes education, workplace reforms, and increased access to medical care. By prioritizing the importance of sleep, South Korea can improve the health and well-being of its citizens and strengthen its economy for years to come.

What is the biggest problem in South Korea?

South Korea is currently dealing with various unique and difficult issues such as having the lowest fertility rate globally, one of the fastest aging societies, intense economic competition from China, fragile supply chains, and significantly lower growth rates.

Is insomnia common in Korea?

About 10% of the Korean population surveyed experienced symptoms of insomnia, with a higher prevalence in women compared to men. This was reported on January 9, 2020.

How often do Koreans sleep?

Koreans typically sleep less than six hours per day on average, but they don’t appear to suffer from a lack of rest. In fact, they often look more well-rested than those of us who aim for at least seven hours of sleep per day. One contributing factor to their decreased sleep is their tendency to work longer hours.

Do Koreans sleep on the floor or a bed?

Similar to Japan, floor sleeping has been a part of Korean culture for centuries. However, with the introduction of more modern living arrangements, floor sleeping may not be as prevalent as it once was.

Why is it difficult to live in South Korea?

Living in South Korea can be difficult for Westerners due to cultural differences and language barriers, especially with older Koreans. Foreign residents often socialize with other foreigners as opposed to locals. Additionally, living conditions in Seoul can be cramped and small in comparison to Western standards.

What is South Korea’s weakness?

South Korea’s vulnerability is mainly from household debt and external exposure. While the risk of short-term financing is considered low, there is concern over the rapidly growing and high level of household debt, which is tied to the thriving property market and amounts to over 100% of GDP.


There are several solutions that can help address South Korea’s sleep deprivation problem. One solution is to promote healthy sleeping habits through education campaigns and workplace reforms. Employers can encourage their employees to take breaks and prioritize their health by providing nap rooms or designated quiet areas.

Another solution is to address the cultural pressure to work long hours. The government can implement policies that limit working hours and encourage a better work-life balance. This can help reduce stress levels and improve sleep patterns.

Improving access to healthcare and mental health resources can also help address sleep disorders and other underlying medical conditions that contribute to sleep deprivation. Additionally, increasing public transportation options and improving the quality of transportation can make commuting less stressful and more conducive to restful sleep.

Finally, individuals can take steps to improve their own sleep habits. This includes establishing a regular sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and creating a comfortable sleeping environment.


South Korea’s sleep deprivation problem is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. By addressing the cultural, societal, and medical factors that contribute to this problem, South Korea can improve the health and well-being of its citizens and strengthen its economy in the long run.

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