Current Statistics on Sleeping Habits: a Sleep Survey

Objectives of this Sleep Survey

While many of us recognize that sleep affects our lives in significant ways, understanding that impact and putting healthy sleep habits into action is often easier said than done. To help readers understand their sleep habits and how they compare with those of others in different demographics, SleepMoment sponsored a survey run by an independent research group.

Sleep is a complex human function, and admittedly, scientists don’t know everything about it. As a result, people often learn, understand, and talk about sleep through personal anecdotes and theoretical ideas.

At SleepMoment, we’re committed to collecting and interpreting raw data about sleep habits and how they can affect everyday life. This survey is just the start of our plans to conduct research in this area.

Looking at these survey results, readers can compare their personal sleep habits with the responses from others in their demographic or those who have different circumstances, lifestyles, and conditions. Seeing how your sleep health and habits compare to others may help you understand the role sleep plays in your life and identify interventions to support better quality sleep and lower stress.

The SleepMoment team is also analyzing the results of this survey to determine what aspects of sleep and health may be worth exploring further in future surveys.

Methodology & Definitions Used for this Sleep Survey

Methodology

We received 400 responses from American adults on this survey, with quotas established to ensure that respondents’ diversity reflected census data. The survey, which took an average of one minute to complete and contained eight questions, was conducted on February 2 and 3, 2021.

It is important to note that, in a pool of 400 respondents at a 95 percent confidence level, there is a 5 percent margin of error. This means that another random sampling of 400 new respondents would yield results within plus or minus 5 percent error of the results reported in this survey.

Definitions

For the purpose of this study and analysis of the results, the terminology listed below corresponds with the provided definitions.

Stress

  • Very Stressed– Respondents who rated their level of stress over the last month as 9/10 or 10/10
  • Less Stressed– Respondents who rated their level of stress over the last month as 7/10 or lower

Employment Status

  • Unemployed and Not Looking for Work– Not currently working and not actively searching for employment
  • Unemployed and Looking for Work– Not currently working and actively searching for employment
  • Part-time– Actively working but not exceeding 39 hours of work a week
  • Full-time– Working 40 hours or more a week

Generations

  • Gen Z or Zoomers– Born in or after 1996
  • Gen Y or Millennials– Born 1977 to 1995
  • Gen X– Born 1965 to 1976
  • Baby Boomers– Born 1946 to 1964
  • Traditionalists– Born in or before 1945

Geographic Demographics

  • Rural– I live in the country
  • Suburban– My neighbors are close, but I’m not living the city life
  • Urban– I live in the heart of a city

Sleep Health & Mental Health Conditions

In the survey, respondents were asked if they had ever “experienced or been diagnosed with” any of the following conditions. You can find definitions and more information about these mental health conditions here.

  • Mental Health
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • General anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobia(s)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Sleep Health
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep paralysis

Questions from Sleep Survey With Data and Results

Question 1

How many hours of sleep do you typically get each night?

Question 2

How long does it typically take for you to fall asleep?

Question 3

How many hours do you typically work each week?

Question 4

Which of the following best describes how often lack of asleep affects your productivity?

Question 5

Over the past month, how would you rate your level of stress?

Question 6

Have you experienced or been diagnosed with any of the following conditions?

Question 7

Which of the following age groups best describes you?

Question 8

Which of the following best describes the setting of your primary residence?

Correlations & Insight from Sleep Survey Data

The Impact of Stress Levels on Sleep

Many of us are probably aware from firsthand experience that undergoing stress in our daily lives impacts the amount and quality of sleep we get at night. Unsurprisingly, the group who reported that they felt very stressed had 36 fewer minutes of sleep each night than those with lower stress levels.

Among the 15 percent of those surveyed who reported being very stressed, only 38 percent of them reported getting seven or more hours of sleep a night—the minimum recommended amount of sleep for adults per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Moreover, those who felt very stressed over the past month were nearly four times more likely to report that their lack of sleep impacted their productivity than those who were less stressed (57 percent vs. 15 percent).

The individuals who felt very stressed also reported that they took longer to fall asleep at night. In the group reporting lower levels of stress, about 57 percent fell asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. For the group who were very stressed, only about 37 percent fell asleep within 20 minutes. A staggering 8.2 percent of the very stressed group took longer than three hours to fall asleep, versus less than 1 percent in the group with lower stress levels.

Stress and Employment’s Relationship to Sleep

Those who were employed part-time were almost twice as likely to feel extremely stressed within the past month when compared to those who worked full time. This finding is of interest to us, and we hope to conduct further research about the other responsibilities and activities in the lives of part-time workers. This research would help us to elucidate the causes of their stress and analyze how that stress affects sleep health.

Employment and Workload’s Effects on Sleep

Work can impact our sleep schedules and the quality of our sleep. As a result of long work hours, stress caused by work, or our inability to complete other tasks outside of work hours, work often poses a threat to a good night’s sleep.

However, despite work’s impact on sleep, results from the survey suggest that those who are unemployed and looking for work experience a greater impact on sleep than other groups.

Individuals who were unemployed and looking for work were most likely to report their productivity being impacted by lack of sleep on a daily basis, whereas those who were employed were most likely to report that their productivity was impacted by lack of sleep only a few times a week.

This finding is of interest, as those who are unemployed and looking for work only sleep an average of 12 minutes fewer a night compared to those who are employed or unemployed but not looking for work. As it is unlikely that such a minor difference in sleep quantity would cause such a significant impact on productivity, it might be worthwhile to further study the differences in sleep quality seen among these groups that could underlie the difference in productivity.

While the reasons for the difference in productivity were not studied in this survey, stress could be a factor. Nearly twice as many of those who are unemployed and looking for work reported feeling extremely stressed. Nineteen percent of people who are unemployed and looking for work report feeling extremely stressed, compared with only 11 percent of those who are employed.

Generational Impact on Sleep

Sleep Duration

For adults up to age 65, the CDC recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night. For those aged 65 and up, the recommendation shifts to seven to eight hours.

As people from different age groups have different sleep patterns—depending on not only their daily schedules but also biological differences—it’s expected to see differences between generations. Still, investigating these differences and why they occur will help us to better understand the sleep needs of people of all ages.

On average, Gen Z respondents (“zoomers”) sleep the most, with an average of seven hours and 24 minutes. Zoomers sleep 42 minutes longer than millennials, 48 minutes longer than Gen X, 42 minutes longer than baby boomers, and 6 minutes more than traditionalists.

The group who reported the least amount of sleep was Gen Xers, sleeping six hours and 36 minutes a night. Knowing that certain factors such as exposure to electronics before bed, stress, and diet impact sleep, studying the bedtime routines common among different generations may provide some insight as to why these differences exist.

Falling Asleep

For Gen X, the amount of total time slept may be due to taking far longer to fall asleep, with Gen Xers reporting that it takes them nearly three times longer to fall asleep than millennials or zoomers. Gen Xers were most likely to select that it took them between 21 to 30 minutes to fall asleep, compared to only five to 10 minutes for millennials and those in Gen Z.

Productivity and Stress

Despite the differences in sleep duration, one commonality was found among Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X—about 30 percent of all three groups report that lack of sleep impacts their productivity every day. In contrast, only 9.4 percent of baby boomers (and zero percent of traditionalists) reported their productivity being affected every day by the lack of sleep.

Returning to stress as a factor with the potential to impact sleep quality, it is worth noting that zoomers, millennials, and Gen Xers were twice as likely to feel extremely stressed over the past month than baby boomers and traditionalists. As a larger portion of baby boomers and traditionalists (often retirees) are unemployed but not seeking employment compared to the other generations, this is one potential reason for the lower stress levels reported amongst this group. However, this would need to be studied further to determine for certain what the causes of stress are for each specific generation.

Mental Health Conditions & Their Impact on Sleep

It is well documented in scientific and medical literature that certain mental health conditions can impact sleep. Our survey results echo what is commonly found in clinical research—those with mental health conditions get less sleep than those without such conditions. Furthermore, different mental health disorders affect sleep in unique ways.

In our research, the impact on sleep among those with depression was quite pronounced. Those with depression sleep an average of 24 minutes fewer than those without any of the mental health or sleep disorders listed in the survey: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, depression, general anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobia(s), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), sleep apnea, and sleep paralysis. Moreover, nearly 20 percent of those with depression reported feeling extremely stressed (compared to 5 percent of those with no conditions).

For those with anxiety, only a small difference was reported in sleep time—only 6 minutes fewer than those with no conditions). However, 20.4 percent of respondents from this group reported taking between one to two hours to fall asleep. Only nine percent of respondents without a condition reported taking as long to fall asleep.

Correlational Data Between Home Location Setting and Sleep Habits

Across all three location demographics assessed (urban, suburban, and rural), respondents reported sleeping an average of around 6.5 hours of sleep each night. Also, across all three groups, about 20 percent of people surveyed reported that lack of sleep impacted their productivity on a daily basis.

However, at 92 percent, more people living in urban environments reported that lack of sleep negatively affected their productivity. This compares to 28.6 percent and 22.7 percent of suburban and rural respondents, respectively.

Once again, we found that stress correlates with decreased sleep and work productivity. Interestingly, nearly 18 percent of those in an urban environment reported feeling extremely stressed, whereas only 7.6 of suburbanites and 8 percent of rural dwellers felt the same.

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