United States Sleep Statistics

Sleep deprivation: America is wide awake!
United States Sleep Statistics
Tom Greenspan
February 7, 2024

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We all do it, some of us do it more than others, but the common thread is we all need and most cherish the opportunity. What is it? Sleep, of course. There is more to sleep than you might think. If you suffer from sleep deprivation for just 24 hours, your outlook on life and the world can flip on its head. You will feel cranky and not part of society.

(1) According to the CDC, one in three Americans doesn't get enough sleep. Scientists recognize that most functioning humans need at least seven hours of sleep, yet most of you are falling short of what is deemed to be a healthy amount of sleep.

Did you know one in four American couples doesn't share the same bed? It's nothing to do with having an acrimonious relationship but the fact that one or the other disturbs the partner's sleep.

This article looks at the statistics on sleep in the US, bringing relevant information on an essential subject to your health and well-being.

Let's dive in.

Sleep statistics overview

  • some startling statistics should concern everyone in the US:
  • In the US, 35% of people sleep fewer than the suggested seven hours per night. Sleep deprivation alters your state of mind and your perception and reaction times, and it can also contribute to mental health issues if prolonged.
  • Sleeping disorder of all kinds affects approximately 70 million US citizens each year.
  • The US economy suffers a staggering $411 billion loss each year due to a lack of sleep from workers.
  • Younger Americans are the highest number of individuals who suffer from sleep deprivation, with 25% and 50 % of all kids experiencing sleep problems.
  • Up to 60% of all college students are not sleeping enough.

Why are younger people suffering so much due to lack of sleep?

There are many reasons for this, but on average school nights, students get between 5 and 7 hours of sleep due to a combination of 45 minutes of homework per class per night and a few extracurricular activities. 

Downtime spent each day watching a video on YouTube or chatting with friends, and an average amount of procrastination. When term papers or a busy test week are involved, the average can quickly fall to 3 or 4.

A leading medical professional identifies that teenagers actually require more sleep than younger children, not less,(2) says sleep specialist Mary Carskadon, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at Brown University and the director of chronobiology and sleep research at Bradley Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. 

They require nine and a half hours of sleep to function at their best.

Half of the adolescents she examined were so exhausted in the morning that they had the same signs of narcolepsy, a severe sleep disease in which the patient drops off and enters REM sleep immediately.

The issue of sleep becomes a matter of life and death practically when you take into account the fact that many of these adolescents are getting behind the wheel in the early morning and driving themselves to school.

Technology distractions

The real light emitted by all the electronic devices that children are exposed to, especially late at night, keeps them up later than merely the distractions provided by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube. 

Blue light, which has a specific frequency, is emitted by electronics. Those receptors transmit a signal to the brain, suppressing melatonin production and stopping kids from feeling fatigued. 

Additionally, melatonin levels are low in adolescents, and their melatonin production begins later.

The lack of sleep in teens has impacted the way they study and their future careers. It's clear to see who is the most sleep-deprived group in the US from the tables below.

It's interesting to see that households with high incomes where the adults are likely to be professionals, such as accountants, doctors, and lawyers, have some of the least sleep indicated in the table. This can be due to stress at work and long working hours.

In contrast, women tend to sleep more than men across the board.(3)

Sleep deprivation and the economy

(5)The US economy loses $411 billion a year due to lack of sleep. To put this into some sort of perspective, $411 billion is more than the GDP of what most Americans would consider a significant country in the world, such as Austria or Thailand.

A nation's economy was significantly impacted by weary or absent workers, according to a global study by Rand Europe.

According to the findings, the United States was the country that was most affected, followed closely by Japan and Germany.

According to researchers who studied how tiny adjustments could have a significant impact, the US economy might gain more than $200 billion if people slept only one additional hour per night.

The United States loses over 1.2 million working days annually as a result of the working population's lack of sleep. A combination of absenteeism—where employees choose not to come to work—and presenteeism—where employees do come to work but perform below-par work—leads to productivity losses at the workplace.

Public health problem

The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified inadequate sleep as a "public health problem." In fact, a recent CDC survey found that more than a third of Americans regularly don't get enough sleep.

This is concerning because research has linked inadequate sleep to a number of poor health and social outcomes, including academic and professional achievement. 

For instance, mounting data suggested a clear correlation between low sleep duration and increased mortality risks during the past few decades.

The economic impacts of sleep deprivation are extensive, given the possible adverse effects of insufficient sleep on health, well-being, and productivity. 

As a result, comparative quantitative data must be presented to policy- and decision-makers, together with recommendations and potential remedies, in order to increase awareness of the scope of inadequate sleep as a public health concern.

Is it just the US that has this problem?

No, it is a worldwide phenomenon in well-developed countries.

(6)Actually, Japan is in a worse predicament when it comes to the percentage of the GDP compared with the US.

Multiple factors are associated with shorter sleep. These include obesity, excessive alcohol, and sugary drink consumption, smoking, lack of physical activity, mental health problems, stress at work, shift work/irregular working hours, financial concerns, and long commuting.

Sleep debt

The study examined sleep data on over 9,000 Americans aged 20 and older obtained by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2017 and March 2020. 

The authors referred to the study as the first to measure sleep duration between workdays and free days individually.

According to research released, about 30% of participants had problems getting or staying asleep, and approximately 27% reported feeling extremely drowsy during the day.

The analysis also revealed that over 1 in 10 persons had a sleep debt of two hours or more, while over 30% of adults reported having an hour or less of sleep than what their bodies require.

According to the CDC, If you have accumulated sleep debt, give yourself more time to rest by going to bed earlier. You don't need to "pay back" the lost sleep hour for an hour because you sleep deeper when you are sleep deprived. 

But it can take several nights of restorative sleep if you haven't gotten enough sleep in days.

Social Jet lag

According to(7)Dr. Elizabeth Klerman, a professor of neurology in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, "the timing of your sleep on workdays is determined by societal and professional constraints, but the timing of your sleep on free days is what your body clock really wants you to do."

(8)Klerman (who was not involved in the study) said that if there is a significant discrepancy between the two, "it's like you're living in a condition of jet lag during the work week."

It's hardly surprising that many people say they don't get enough sleep during the week because of demanding job schedules and jam-packed weekends.

Insomnia, early rising or excessive sleepiness, afternoon weariness, difficulty concentrating, constipation or diarrhea, and elevated cortisol levels are just a few of the significant side effects of untreated social jet lag.

Additionally, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity may all be influenced by it.

An analysis of 85,000 UK residents' sleep patterns conducted in June 2021 revealed that individuals with a disrupted sleep cycle were more likely to experience despair, anxiety, and a lack of feelings of wellness.

Although the study did not look at whether people preferred mornings or evenings, those who prefer to stay up late are likely to suffer the most because of the inconsistency between their internal body clock and the demands of their current jobs.

These are the folk who are likely going to have more of a sleep debt and more social jet lag.

Obesity and sleep statistics

Sleep problems can make it more likely to gain weight, and being overweight might have an impact on sleep. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers evaluated 77 obese individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. 

The group was split equally. One group was given a placebo, and the other group a diet and exercise plan.

The group with the exercise regime and diet plan lost 15% of their body weight, making them sleep better.


A sleeper with sleep apnea will have breathing pauses or apneas as they doze off. People who have sleep apnea frequently snore loudly and repeatedly stop breathing. In contrast, they sleep, frequently wake up with a dry mouth or headache, are exhausted during the day, and have difficulty concentrating. 

Being overweight increases the risk of developing sleep apnea because fat around the upper airway can obstruct the airway, especially while resting on the back.

Anxiety and sleep

People who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders frequently experience sleep problems. Even nightmares or insomnia are mentioned in the criteria of several anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Typically, worry serves as an alarm for impending danger, but in cases of anxiety disorders, the sirens might be intense, frequent, or even constant. 

Arousal at this degree makes it difficult to fall asleep.

Get better sleep

(9)Meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscular relaxation are all suggestions for rapid sleep. It's also best to stick to the same routine on days off from work in order to maintain your internal clock functioning properly.

Exercise, avoiding naps, and practicing excellent sleep hygiene, such as keeping smartphones and other electronic gadgets out of the bedroom, having a warm bath, or relaxing with yoga, are further suggestions for overcoming sleep deficits.

Then, don't hit that snooze button when you get up in the morning. Attempt to get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off, especially if the weather is nice and there is a lot of morning sunshine. This will enable melatonin suppression.

You should attempt to maintain the same sleep and wake timings on work and off days. However, if you don't get enough rest during the work week, attempt to get extra on your days off.