Apr 16, 2024
4 mins read
4 mins read

Americans Say They Would Feel Better If They Got More Sleep

Americans Say They Would Feel Better If They Got More Sleep

NEW YORK (NEWSnest/AP) — If you’re feeling sleepy or tired while you read this story, and wish you could get some more rest, you’re not alone.

A majority of Americans say they would feel better if they could have more sleep, according to a new Gallup poll.

But in the U.S., the ethos of grinding and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps is ubiquitous, both in the country’s beginnings and in the current environment of always-on technology and work hours.

With that, getting enough sleep can seem like a dream.

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The Gallup poll, released Monday, found 57% of Americans say they would feel better if they could get more sleep, while only 42% say they are getting as much sleep as they need. That’s a first in Gallup polling since 2001; 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.

Younger women, under the age of 50, were especially likely to report they aren’t getting enough rest.

“That five hours or less category ... was almost not really heard of in 1942,” Fioroni said. “There’s almost nobody that said they slept five hours or less.”

In modern American life, there also has been “this pervasive belief about how sleep was unnecessary — that it was this period of inactivity where little to nothing was actually happening and that took up time that could have been better used,” said Joseph Dzierzewski, vice president for research and scientific affairs at the National Sleep Foundation.

It’s only relatively recently that the importance of sleep to physical, mental and emotional health has started to percolate more in the general population, he said.

One likely reason for Americans’ sleeplessness is cultural — a longstanding emphasis on industriousness and productivity.

Some of the context is much older than the shift documented in the poll. It includes the Protestants from European countries who colonized the country, said Claude Fischer, a professor of sociology at the graduate school of the University of California Berkeley. Their belief system included the idea that working hard and being rewarded with success was evidence of divine favor.

“It has been a core part of American culture for centuries,” he said. “You could make the argument that it ... in the secularized form over the centuries becomes just a general principle that the morally correct person is somebody who doesn’t waste their time.”

While the poll only shows a broad shift over the past decade, living through the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected people’s sleep patterns. Also discussed in post-COVID life is “revenge bedtime procrastination,” in which people put off sleeping and instead scroll on social media or binge a show as a way of trying to handle stress.

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