Tired Nation: Americans Now Averaging Less Than 6 Hours Of Sleep Per Night


  • Annual survey reveals adults are sleeping a staggering 47 minutes less than they did in 2018.
  • Respondents had 105 “terrible” nights of sleep on average in 2019 — up from 99 in 2018.

NEW YORK — As the years press forward, sleep is becoming a frustratingly harder challenge for many Americans. That’s the main finding of a recent survey consisting of 2,000 adults that asked about sleeping habits, satisfaction, and frequency.

Perhaps the most stunning result of all is the drop in total average sleep time for Americans. It seems logging six hours is a struggle for many. Consider this finding: In 2018, the average respondent reported about six hours and 17 minutes of sleep per night. By 2019, however, that average shrunk to only five-and-a-half hours each night. If the trend continues, 2020 will be even worse for many in search of some shuteye.

Those numbers are a far cry from the recommended eight full hours of sleep, but apparently these disturbing dips in sleep patterns aren’t for a lack of trying; respondents said they do their best to attain the “perfect night’s sleep” whenever possible. In fact, in 2019 the average respondent said they would pay $316.61 for just one night of perfect sleep. That’s quite an increase over the $290 respondents said they would be willing to pay in 2018.

All in all, the survey, which was commissioned by Mattress Firm, found that one in four Americans consistently slept poorly in 2019. Additionally, respondents had an average of 105 “terrible” nights of sleep last year, compared to 99 in 2018. With these numbers in mind it also makes sense that Americans took more naps last year too, averaging 115 afternoon snoozes in comparison to 93 in 2018.

Of course, many naps never actually get started either. Respondents reported roughly 102 failed naps in 2019.

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Still, in 2019 Americans enjoyed about 120 great nights of sleep, defined as quickly falling asleep and staying that way until morning. While analyzing these good nights, it was noted that people tend to have a better night when sleeping on their back. Across both 2018 and 2019, respondents who said they usually slept on their back were found to be most likely to enjoy more consistent sleep patterns.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that sleeping on one’s side was identified as the most common position among Americans, those who prefer their side also seemed to have the hardest time falling asleep.

For what it’s worth, the survey also found that dozing beside a pet can promote a better night’s sleep. A significant seven in 10 respondents who slept with a pet reported consistently sleeping “perfectly well.” That’s a large increase over the 24% of respondents who don’t sleep with a pet that said the same.

Sleep-tracking apps and watches are becoming more and more popular, but 70% of respondents said they don’t use such technology.

“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, Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert. “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.”

Respondents were also asked about their pre-sleep rituals, and it’s clear that many of us are creatures of habit before bedtime. The top 10 listed bedtime rituals were as follows: reading a book (43%), watching TV (42%), taking a vitamin / supplement (36%), taking a bath / shower (36%), drinking warm milk (36%), meditating (36%), having sex (29%), planning out tomorrow (26%), drinking tea (25%), and turning on a sound machine (23%).

Others said they usually use their smartphones in bed, for an average of 12 and a half minutes. Dr. Kansagra, though, recommends staying away from your phone or laptop before bed.

“Your bed should be reserved for sweet dreams only – not tossing and turning all night due to distractions, such as noise and light,” he comments. “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.”

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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