February 07, 2018
Americans are getting better at catching more Z's.
In a study published in the journal Sleep last month, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine found that 181,335 respondents to a survey conducted between 2003-2016 got an average of 7.5 extra hours of sleep each year.
"This is the first study to show that sleep duration has increased among broad segments of the United States population (students 15 and older, people who are employed, and retirees) over this period," a news release from Penn said. "The increase in sleep duration was mostly explained by respondents turning in earlier at night, and to a lesser degree by getting up later in the morning."
The researchers said on average, sleep increased daily for respondents by 1.4 minutes on weekdays and 0.8 minutes on weekends per year. While that may not seem like a lot, the researchers noted this amounts to 17.3 minutes more minutes of sleep per night over the 14-year period, or 4.4 full days of sleep each year.
“This shows an increased willingness in parts of the population to give up pre-bed leisure activities to obtain more sleep,” said Dr. Mathias Basner, the study's lead author and an associate professor of sleep and chronobiology in psychiatry.
According to the study, during the same time span as the survey, Google searchers for "sleep" doubled and medical studies on the negative effects of "short sleep" have increased ten-fold.
Research has linked chronically not getting enough sleep to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and declines in cognitive function. The generally-accepted medical consensus is that adults should get seven or more hours of sleep a night on a regular basis.
The researchers also warned that the findings need to be duplicated and that there's still a lot of work to be done to fight against widespread, chronic sleep loss.