Americans are sleeping an extra 7.5 hours per year, on average, according to a study recently published in the journal Sleep.
Using data from the American Time Use Survey, researchers from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed the sleep habits of 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older. They found that between the years 2003 and 2016, Americans added an average of 17.3 minutes of sleep per night.
Sleep duration increased among several groups, including students 15 and older, retirees and yes, even employed workers. The increased sleep was due mostly to people going to bed earlier, not rising at earlier times. The reason? Respondents becoming less likely to read or watch TV before bed.
“This shows an increased willingness in parts of the population to give up pre-bed leisure activities to obtain more sleep,” said the study’s lead author, Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Sleep and Chronobiology in Psychiatry, according to Science Daily. “Also, the data suggest that increasing opportunities to work, learn, bank, shop, and perform administrative tasks online and from home freed up extra time, and some of it was likely used to get more sleep.”
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Why More Sleep Matters
This is good news for both workers and their employers, as more sleep has been associated with higher quality work, greater productivity and increased health. One study even found that adding sleep could boost workers’ earnings.
If you want to test the theory for yourself, a few lifestyle changes can help you get started. Begin with the obvious — don’t look at your phone before bedtime and choose books over e-readers that emit melatonin-disrupting blue light. Set a bedtime that gives you a chance to fall asleep and catch the recommended seven-plus hours per night.
Above all, make sleep a priority. Your health and career could depend on it.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you getting more sleep these days — and if so, have you noticed a positive effect on your work? We want to hear from you. Share your advice in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.