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Survey: Americans Sleeping Less Than 6 Hours Per Night; 47 Minutes Less Than Last Year

Tired man yawning in front of computer

The sleeplessness epidemic continued to get worse in 2019. According to a new survey of 2000 adults the average American got less than 6 hours of sleep per night. This comes out to 47 minutes less than 2018, an all-time low.

This stunning drop means that the 6 hours and 17 minutes that Americans slept in 2018 was reduced to a shockingly low 5-and-a-half hours per night. These numbers are significantly lower than the full 8 hours of sleep that Sleepline and other experts recommend.

These numbers aren’t the result of a lack of trying: respondents reported that they do everything possible to attain “a perfect night’s sleep” whenever they can. The survey even asked how much respondents would pay to get a perfect night of shuteye: $316.61, an increase over the $290 that respondents said they would pay in 2018.

The survey – conducted by Mattress Firm – found that 1-in-4 Americans slept poorly in 2019. Respondents experienced an average of 105 “terrible” nights of sleep last year, an increase compared to the 99 nights reported in 2018. Respondents also averaged 115 afternoon naps in 2019 compared to 93 in 2018. They also reported 102 failed naps last year, indicating that falling asleep is difficult for many people.

The good news

The news wasn’t all grim, however. In 2019 the average American reported experiencing 120 nights of “great” sleep, which the researchers defined as falling asleep quickly and not waking up until morning. The survey found that people were more likely to have a good night of rest while sleeping on their back. In both 2018 and 2019 respondents who reported sleeping on their back had the most consistently positive sleep patterns (Side sleepers had the worst sleep).

Respondents also reported that sleeping next to a pet helped them fall asleep. Seven out of 10 respondents reported sleeping “perfectly well” on a consistent basis when sleeping next to their cat or dog.

Sleep and technology

Even though sleep trackers – both apps and wearables like the Oura Ring – are becoming more popular, 70% of respondents said that they don’t use them.

“I recommend practicing a bedtime routine – even something as simple as putting on a sleep mask each night, reading in bed for 20 minutes or practicing the same shower routine at the same time every night – signals to your brain it’s time to hit the hay,” says Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a sleep health adviser at Mattress Firm. “Creating a bedtime routine that lasts for 20-30 minutes and sticking to that routine can make all the difference in your energy, productivity and mood.”

The average respondent reported using their phone in bed for an average of 12-and-a-half minutes.

“Your bed should be reserved for sweet dreams only – not tossing and turning all night due to distractions, such as noise and light,” Kansagra says. “Bright light, such as electronics or outside lighting, can decrease the body’s production of a natural sleep hormone, melatonin, and leave you feeling wide awake.”