Sleep by the Numbers

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Interesting Sleep Facts and Statistics (2021) that We Can Learn From

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Sleep is an essential part of your body’s mental and physical wellness. However, it’s easy to forget how important sleep is until you have trouble getting it. People who have either an occasional poor night of sleeping or chronic sleep problems may benefit from learning the many reasons you may not sleep well, including medical problems, sleep disorders, your sleep environment, mental health conditions, and more.

Reviewing some interesting facts about sleep and sleep statistics may remind you why sleep is so important and how much you need, as well as the health effects of not sleeping well.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults between 18 and 64 years old. Adults over 65 may need 7-8 hours.

More than one-third of adults in the National Sleep Foundation’s 2020 Sleep in America Poll aren’t getting the recommended sleep and feel sleepy during the day at least half the week or more. Many say it affects their mood, mental sharpness, and productivity daily. In fact, people in the survey said feeling tired impacts their work performance, ability to exercise, and negatively affects their relationships with friends and family. Let’s look at why.

What Keeps You Up at Night

  • Between 10% and 30% of adults struggle with insomnia. 
  • 2% – 9% of adults are affected by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). 
  • Women typically report poorer quality and more disrupted sleep across various life stages than men.
  • 89% of adults and 75% of children have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms.

Common causes of chronic insomnia include:

  • 35% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping for less than seven hours per night on average. 
  • About half of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day anywhere from three to seven times a week.

There are many effective treatments for insomnia including lifestyle changes, behavioral therapy, and medication. What’s more, snoring, which can keep you from getting quality sleep, may be linked to OSA, though not everyone who snores has it. There are treatments for OSA, too. Women may be more prone to disrupted sleep due to hormonal changes—such as the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause—or to conditions that are more common in women, such as depression and fibromyalgia. 

To improve sleep quality, try limiting alcohol and caffeine intake since both can stay in your system for a long time and can cause nightly bathroom trips, which disrupt sleep. Plus, blue light from phones and electronics can upset the natural sleep/wake cycle and block melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy. Turn off gadgets at bedtime, dim their brightness, and stop using them 2-3 hours before bed.

How You Think About Sleep

  • 39% of adults plan for how much sleep they need when thinking about the next day.
  • 65% of adults think getting enough sleep makes you more effective.
  • 54% of parents believe sleep has an impact on their child’s school performance.

Getting good quality sleep depends a variety of factors, one of which is the type of sleep you get. For example, slow-wave sleep is the deepest sleep which helps you feel restored and refreshed for the next day. You also cycle in and out of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the stage of sleep where you dream, throughout the night. REM is responsible for helping you stay mentally sharp and focused, so you can be most productive. To help get good quality sleep, keep a regular bedtime routine and stay off phones and computers right before bed to avoid their sleep-inhibiting blue light.

How to Get More Sleep 

  • 93% of people say a comfortable mattress is important for good sleep. 
  • 54% of parents and 60% of children take a bath or shower to help them sleep.
  • Children whose parents enforce bedtime rules sleep 1.1 hours longer than children whose parents don’t enforce rules.
  • 28% of adults in the U.S. use a smartphone app to help them track their sleep.

Create a sleep-friendly bedroom including a cool, dark, quiet room with a comfortable mattress to help you sleep well. And try out some sleep technology such as a sleep tracking app, lights that gradually fade at bedtime, and smart home technology that can shut off your Wifi at night. Lastly, healthy sleep tips like maintaining a regular bed and wake time and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and naps can help you improve your sleep. 

These sleep statistics and their significance to our overall health and well-being can help provide a basis of information for good sleep practices that work for a majority of the population.