Posted by: Lotus Light | March 28, 2011

A hard day at the office

One of the big differences westerners see when they come to China is the attitude to sleep.  It seems to me that if there was an Olympic medal in sleeping, China would be the all-time champion.

Between 12 midday and 2:00pm everyday, everyone goes to sleep.  The students eat a hurried lunch and rush off to their dorms for a sleep.  Healthy 18-25 year olds, not just the elderly or tiny tots.  If someone wakes up long enough to phone me at that time, they always preface their discussion with “I’m so sorry to wake you.”  Excuse me – I’m NOT asleep!

Everyone is so surprised when I tell them that, even at primary school, children eat lunch and run out to play – not sleep.  That lunch time in Australian schools is 45-60 minutes, not 2 hours.  University students may sleep during the day, the same as my students here do, but not for the same reasons.  Back home we slept during the day because we had been partying really late the night before.  😉

None of the research showing that exercise at lunch time helps academic performance makes any dent in the deeply help belief that sleep at midday is a must.  No discussion around ‘sleep is a habit, and you can change this habit’ makes any sense.

My least favourite classes to teach are those that I teach after lunch.  Students rock up to class a little late, they are still not mentally awake, and the class is dull and hard work.  These same students, if I teach them before lunch, are bright and energetic, answering, thinking, participating.

A wander through the streets during those sleepy hours shows the same dedication to sleep. Stall owners are tucked up on chairs or lying on or under the shelves of their stalls.  Enough attention still alive to hear a customer, but no real belief that there will be many people out buying.  Everyone else is asleep.

Must head for bed – it’s been a long day at the computer!


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