Today, millions of Americans experience sleep disorders. In fact, 1 in 3 Americans have difficulty getting enough sleep, and everything from too much caffeine and stress to overexposure to the blue lights of mobile devices are to blame. Even in recognition of that trend, a new study has found that we’re actually getting more sleep now than we have in years past.
Americans are Giving Up Their Pre-Bedtime Leisure
The study was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and it found that people are more focused on the importance of sleep. Taking data collected from the American Time Use Survey, the researchers discovered that most people added an extra 7.5 hours to their sleep schedules from 2003 through 2016.
Normally, people spend some of their bedtime hours reading books or watching television, but that was less often the case within that 14-year range. Instead, Americans used their time more wisely, taking the opportunity to catch up on their sleep.
Mathias Basner, who was the lead researcher on the study, believes people are more willing to give up their leisure activities if it means benefiting from better sleep.
A Closer Look at the Findings
The extra 7.5 hours of sleep uncovered by the study is the accumulation of extra sleep over the course of the 14-year study. More specifically, people have been getting 1.4 extra minutes of sleep per night on the weekdays. For the weekends, that number drops to 0.8 minutes. While that seems less impressive, it’s important to note that those numbers translate to 17.3 minutes of additional sleep each night.
Studied from another perspective, the researchers estimated that this equates to 4.4 full days of extra sleep each year. These numbers are even more impressive when you consider the study took a cross-generational sampling. The sleeping habits of students aged 15 and older, employed adults, and retirees were all examined. While some of the subjects did report getting up later in the mornings, increased sleep time is largely credited to turning in earlier at night.
In today’s hectic, stressful world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to relax enough to get a full night’s sleep. That may be one factor motivating Americans to get to bed earlier. Getting a full night’s sleep is important to our overall health, as well as to our ability to function in society, so it’s uplifting to learn that people are changing their lifestyles to get the sleep they need.