Americans Struggle to Get Sleep

The results of a new JAMA Network Open study indicate that many Americans struggle to get a good night’s rest, and that more studies are needed to optimize sleep health in the U.S.

Researchers of this study sought to analyze sleep habits and disturbances of US adults in 2017 to 2020.

In this cross-sectional analysis, researchers used data from the US nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2017-2020) to assess 9,004 individuals aged 20 years and older (average age, 48, 51% women, 63% White).

The key end points of interest were defined as distributions of sleep habits, including sleep duration and sleep-wake timing on workdays and free days, sleep debt (e.g., the difference between sleep duration on free days and mean weekly sleep duration), and social jet lag (e.g., the difference between the midpoint between sleep and wake time on workdays and free days).

According to the results, the average U.S. adult got 7.59 hours of sleep on workdays and 8.24 hours of sleep on non-work days, translated to a difference of 0.65 hours. On average, adults slept from 11:02 pm to 6:41 am, respectively, on workdays and 11:25 pm to 7:41 am, respectively, on free days, translating to a difference of 0.23 hour for sleep time and 1 hour for awake time.

On workdays, the results showed that 23.1% of adults slept less than 7 hours and 25.4% went to sleep at midnight or later. Those percentages changed to 12.9% and, respectively, on free days.

Notably, the study found that almost 30% of U.S. adults have trouble sleeping, and over 27% of U.S. adults experience daytime sleepiness. “In 2017 to 2020, US adults showed variability in sleep habits between workdays and free days, with longer sleep duration and later sleep-wake phases on free days, and high percentages of US adults experienced long-term sleep deprivation, chronic social jet lag, and frequent sleep disturbances,” the researchers concluded.

“These findings provide evidence to further investigate potential approaches to optimize overall US sleep health.”