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Sleepy? You're Not Alone

Americans report that they would like to be getting more shut-eye
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 15, 2024 2:52 PM CDT
Survey Says: Americans Are Pretty Darned Sleepy
A woman and her dog nap at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh. In a new Gallup survey, a majority of Americans say they would feel better if they could have more sleep.   (Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP, File)

If you're feeling—YAWN—sleepy and wish you could get some more shut-eye, you're not alone, reports the AP. Some takeaways from a new Gallup poll on the subject, released Monday:

  • 57% of Americans say they would feel better if they could get more sleep, while only 42% say they're getting as much sleep as they need. In 2013, when Americans were last asked, it was just about the reverse—56% saying they got the needed sleep and 43% saying they didn't.

  • Per night: Only 26% said they got eight or more hours of sleep per night. Just over half, 53%, reported six to seven hours. And 20% said they got five hours or less, a jump from the 14% who reported the least amount of sleep in 2013.
  • In 1942: The vast majority of Americans were sleeping more. Some 59% said they slept eight or more hours, while 33% said they slept six to seven hours.
  • Why? It's not entirely clear, and since Gallup last asked the question in 2013, there's no data breaking down the particular impact of the last four years and the pandemic. Modern American life has "this pervasive belief about how sleep was unnecessary—that it was this period of inactivity where little to nothing was actually happening," says an expert at the National Sleep Foundation.
  • It's in our culture: Blame it on European Protestants who colonized the country, says Claude Fischer, a sociology professor at UC Berkeley. They believed that working hard and being rewarded with success was evidence of divine favor. The secularized form is "that the morally correct person is somebody who doesn't waste their time."
  • Revenge procrastination: Post-COVID life shows "revenge bedtime procrastination," in which people put off sleeping and instead scroll on social media or binge a show to handle stress. Says one 30-year-old: "I'm like, 'Well, I didn't have any me time during the day, and it is now 10pm, so I am going to feel totally fine and justified watching X number of episodes of TV, spending this much time on Instagram, as my way to decompress. Which obviously will always make the problem worse."
(More sleep stories.)

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