Americans Finally Getting a Little More Sleep
Are bleary-eyed Americans getting a break at last?
New research suggests that people are sleeping a few more minutes each night than they used to.
“Over 14 years [2003 to 2016], Americans were getting 17 minutes more sleep every night, or a full four days more sleep per year,” said study lead researcher Dr. Mathias Basner. He’s associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s division of sleep and chronobiology.
Basner’s team credit the trend to more awareness of the importance of sleep. Better awareness has led to better sleep habits — going to bed earlier and not reading or watching TV or using smartphones or other devices in bed.
However, despite these modest gains, a third of Americans are still sleep-deprived, which can have serious consequences for their health, Basner said.
Studies have shown that people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to be obese and have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and declines in mental function. In addition, Basner said, daytime sleepiness can lead to serious accidents.
To be in their best health, adults should sleep seven or more hours a night on a regular basis, Basner said.
For a good night’s sleep, he suggested going to bed and getting up at regular times. In addition, keep the bedroom dark, quiet, cool and free of distractions, such as TV, books, smartphones and computers.
“Basically, when you enter the bedroom it should be a signal to your body that it’s time to sleep,” Basner said. “Your bedroom is for sleeping and sex, nothing else.”
The report stems from a survey of more than 181,000 Americans, 15 and older, who took part in the American Time Use Survey between 2003 and 2016. It found that most people increased their sleep by nearly eight hours each year over the 14 years of the study.
Specifically, Basner and his colleague David Dinges, a professor and chief of Penn’s division of sleep and chronobiology, found that daily sleep increased by 1.4 minutes on weekdays and 0.8 minutes on weekends each year.