Poll: Americans Short on Sleep

Better Sleep, Healthier Body

Quantity, Quality Matter

American adults average 6.9 hours of sleep each night, slightly less than the range of the seven to nine hours recommended by many sleep experts. However, the 2005 Sleep in America poll also indicates that more people now say they are sleeping less than six hours on weekdays (16 percent) and weekends (10 percent) compared to respondents in NSF's 1998 poll, which found 12 percent sleeping less than six hours on weekdays and 8 percent getting that amount on weekends.

On average, America's adults say they need a minimum of 6.5 hours of sleep a night to function their best the next day; and about three-quarters of respondents say they get the amount of sleep they need or more. However, one-half of those polled report feeling tired, fatigued or subpar during their waking hours at least one day a week; nearly one out of five (17 percent) say this happens every day or almost every day.

Quality sleep is missing for many adults, according to the poll findings. About one-half of respondents say they get "a good night's sleep" every night or almost every night; however, one-quarter of those polled say they sleep well only a few nights a month or less. Poor sleepers are more likely than good sleepers to say that their intimate relationships are affected because they are too sleepy (34 percent vs. 8 percent).

On at least a few nights of the week, the most popular activity in the hour before bedtime is watching television for nearly nine out of 10 adults, while just over a quarter (27 percent) say they have sex during this time frame. What sleep experts would consider poor sleep hygiene is evident in other activities, such as being on the Internet (28 percent), doing work related to their job (18 percent), drinking an alcoholic beverage (13 percent) and exercising (11 percent).

Health and Medical Conditions

The Sleep in America poll shows a relationship between sleep and health. Adults diagnosed with at least one common medical condition (e.g., high blood pressure, arthritis, heartburn/GERD or depression) are less likely to say they frequently get a good night's sleep, and are nearly twice as likely to experience frequent daytime sleepiness than those who don't have the conditions.

NSF's new poll also confirms an epidemic of obesity in America. Based on body mass index (BMI) measures, the poll finds nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) are overweight or obese, conditions that clearly impact sleep. The data show that compared to adults of average weight, those considered obese are more likely to get less than six hours of sleep on weeknights (18 percent vs. 11 percent), and frequently have daytime sleepiness (37 percent vs. 26 percent). They also are nearly six times as likely to be at risk for sleep apnea (57 percent vs. 10 percent), and are nearly twice as likely to think they have a sleep problem (30 percent vs. 17 percent).

NSF released the 2005 Sleep in America poll as part of its eighth annual National Sleep Awareness Week® campaign, which culminates with the return of daylight saving time. This year's campaign, March 28 to April 3, involves hundreds of partners in communities throughout the country.

The 2005 Sleep in America poll was conducted for NSF by WB&A Market Research, using a random sample of 1,506 adults at least 18 years of age who were interviewed by telephone between Sept. 20 and Nov. 7, 2004. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percent.

The National Sleep Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving greater understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, and by supporting education, sleep-related research, and advocacy. NSF is based in Washington, D.C.

©2005 National Sleep Foundation. All rights reserved.

©2005 National Sleep Foundation. All rights reserved.