Sleep Facts

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Interesting Sleep Facts

  • Almost 50% of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day from three to seven days per week1.

  • 35.2% of all adults in the U.S.A. report sleeping on average for less than seven hours per night2.

  • 42.6% of single parents sleep less than seven hours per night compared to 32.7% of adults in two-parent homes and 31% of adults without children3.

  • 32.6% of working adults reported sleeping for six or fewer hours per night in 2017-2018, up from 28.4% in 2008-20094.

  • More than 44% of workers in production-focused industries, such as factory workers and plant operators, report getting seven hours of sleep or less per night5.

  • Active duty service members are 34% more likely to report insufficient sleep than people with no history of military service6.
  • Approximately 80% of people who take prescription sleep medications experienced side effects like oversleeping, feeling groggy, or having a hard time concentrating the next day7.

  • 8.2% of adults say they have taken medication to help them sleep at least four times in the past week8.

  • 20% of American adults have tried a natural remedy for sleep problems in the last year9.

  • In a study of 31 melatonin supplements sold in stores, 71% were not within 10% of their listed dosage10.

  • In healthy adults, caffeine has a half-life of five hours, which means that around half of the caffeine consumed will be eliminated from the body in five hours11.

  • 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week has been associated with reduced levels of daytime sleepiness and better concentration even when tired12.

1. National Sleep Foundation. (2020, March 7). The National Sleep Foundation’s 2020 Sleep in America® Poll Shows Alarming Level of Sleepiness and Low Levels of Action.

2. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. (2017, May 2). CDC – Data and Statistics – Sleep and Sleep Disorders.

3. Nugent CN, Black LI. (2016). Sleep duration, quality of sleep, and use of sleep medication, by sex and family type, 2013–2014. NCHS data brief, no 230. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.

4. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, April 24). QuickStats: Percentage of Currently Employed Adults Aged ≥18 Years Who Reported an Average of ≤6 Hours of Sleep per 24-Hour Period, by Employment Category — National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2008–2009 and 2017–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:504.

5. Shockey TM, Wheaton AG. (2017, March 3). Short Sleep Duration by Occupation Group — 29 States, 2013–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:207–213.

6. Chapman, D. P., Liu, Y., McKnight-Eily, L. R., Croft, J. B., Holt, J. B., Balkin, T. J., & Giles, W. H. (2015). Daily insufficient sleep and active duty status. Military medicine, 180(1), 68–76.

7. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019, December 13). QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Aged ≥18 Years Who Took Medication To Help Fall or Stay Asleep Four or More Times in the Past Week, by Sex and Age Group — National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2017–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:1150.

8. Fitzgerald, T., & Vietri, J. (2015). Residual Effects of Sleep Medications Are Commonly Reported and Associated with Impaired Patient-Reported Outcomes among Insomnia Patients in the United States. Sleep disorders, 2015, 607148.

9. Loria, K. (2019, January 23). Does Melatonin Really Help You Sleep?

10. Erland, L. A., & Saxena, P. K. (2017). Melatonin Natural Health Products and Supplements: Presence of Serotonin and Significant Variability of Melatonin Content. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 13(2), 275–281.

11. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. 2, Pharmacology of Caffeine.

12. Loprinzi, P. D., Cardinal, B. J. (2011). Association between objectively-measured physical activity and sleep, NHANES 2005–2006. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 4(2) Issue 2, 65-69.

We spend one third of our lives in a state of sleep or trying to attain that restful state1. Not sleeping well may not seem like a big deal but chronic loss of sleep can cause a panoply of problems. Physical health, mental health, productivity, arguably every facet of our lives can be either improved or damaged by the amount of sleep we get.

A continual lack of sleep can lead to serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, mood disorders and impaired immune function. While it may not seem like much goes on while we sleep, our bodies are quite busy repairing and managing the complexities that make us function optimally. Regulating hormones is one of those tasks overseen during adequate quality sleep. Too little sleep can affect this delicate process and cause a harmful imbalance. For example, when the stress hormone cortisol and the glucose regulating hormone insulin are too high, risk of weight gain and diabetes appear2. Since chronic sleep issues cause undue stress to the body, physical and mental exhaustion can easily exacerbate hypertension, depression and anxiety as the tired body struggles to keep up with all the daily demands. Sleep deprivation also suppresses the immune system so remember, a well rested body is better equipped to fight and prevent serious health problems3. 

Sleep deprivation issues extend beyond the individual, especially in instances where decreased productivity, errors in the worplace, or preventable accidents occur. Cost of fatigue in the workplace, measured by poor performance, absenteeism, accidents and injuries clocks in at a whopping $136 billion loss4. Numerous demanding jobs require long hours and extreme attention to detail. Fatigue can impair critical decision abilities resulting in devastating consequences. Medical errors contribute to a shocking number of deaths each year. Many high profile accidents such as the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, and the Chernobyl disaster, are all partially attributed to errors due to sleep deprivation. Long shifts, night shifts, and double shifts, can all make it even harder for some people to get good quality sleep. Driver fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel cause an estimated 100,000 crashes each year in the United States5. Chronic sleep deprivation is a consequential problem that requires more attention especially since it doesn’t just affect the individual but can result in fatal accidents.

Sleeping is an indispensable part of our lives and ensures that our bodies function optimally. For some, it may seem like a waste of time, but your body needs that time to repair and heal itself from the day’s activities, physically and mentally. Prioritizing a good night’s sleep is just as important as any other healthy habit. The consequences of insufficient sleep are just too great to dismiss. 

Did you Know?

Nurses working 12.5-hour shifts report committing more than three times as many medical errors than those working 8.5-hour shifts. 

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