German holidaymakers have long been engaged in a battle for supremacy over who gets their towels on the sunloungers first - as European counterparts have discovered to their cost. But now scientists are claiming that the behaviour could explain why the German economy is in better shape than the rest of the continent.
The research was presented by Professor Russell Foster, aNeuroscientist. The study examined the sleeping habits of 75,000 Germans and British people.
Together with Professor Till Roenneberg, from Ludwig-Maximiliansin Munich, who also took part in the research, they discovered that the average Briton slept for seven hours and 21 minutes a night, whereas the average German slept for eight minutes less.
In addition the average German arrived for work at 8.20am while the average Briton arrived thirty minutes later. Perhaps most telling of all, Germans said they were out of bed within 15 minutes of the alarm clock going off while sleepy head Brits stayed under the duvet for 20 minutes.
However the scientists said that the Germans were also paying a price for all this industriousness.
Prof Roenneberg said: “When I compared the sleep patterns of the UK respondents with their German counterparts the main difference was in their experience of social jet lag. Social jet lag is the discrepancy between what our body clock wants us to do and what our social clock wants us to do. It is much smaller for Brits, by more than 30 minutes, which means that the working day starting at 8.50am better suits the sleep need of the UK population.”
And Prof Foster said because they had less social jet lag, then Brits found it easier to get up without an alarm clock. The study also found that other factors which affected sleep included obesity and alcohol consumption. While the average German is less overweight than the Brits they did match them for beer drinking and smoked more.
The study is likely to be extended to the rest of Europe but the scientists say that the Latin block of Spain, France, Portugal, Italy and Greece, are likely to need as much extra sleep as UK residents.