Feel like you’re on an endless quest for a good night’s sleep? Many of us do and it turns out, we’re failing at it. A new study on sleep habits in the U.S. analyzed sleep data on more than 9-thousand American adults over the age of 20 collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Study authors say this is the first study to evaluate sleep duration on workdays and free days separately and it reveals that many of us aren’t getting enough:
- Almost 30% of respondents have trouble falling or staying asleep and 27% were very sleepy during the day as a result.
- More than 30% reported an hour of sleep debt - when you sleep less than your body needs - and about 10% have a sleep debt of two hours or more.
- Nearly half of the adults in the study report social jet lag, which is a result of the shift in sleep schedule many people experience on their days off, compared to work days. If you have a big difference between the timing of your sleep on workdays and free days, “it’s like living in a state of jet lag during the work week,” explains Dr. Elizabeth Klerman, a professor in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School.
- More than 46% of participants report having an hour of social jet lag, while 19.3% have at least two hours.
- Social jet lag can have serious effects, including insomnia, excessive sleepiness, trouble concentrating and increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
- Sleep debt and not getting a regular amount of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, dementia and mood disorders like anxiety and dementia.
- To overcome sleep deficits and social jet lag, experts recommend sticking with a sleep schedule that gets you at least seven hours every night, without sleeping in on your days off.