Better Take a Quick Nap Before Reading This One

If Macbeth was correct in saying sleep “knits up the ravel’d sleave of care,” then Americans must be coming apart at the seams. Polling conducted for the National Sleep Foundation finds epidemic levels of sleep deprivation. While experts recommend adults get eight hours of sleep per night, Americans average 6 hours and 54 minutes during the workweek. (They get about 40 minutes more on weekends.) In part, the problem stems from people’s willingness to jettison sleep in favor of other activities. For instance, 43 percent “often stay up later than they should because they are watching TV or are on the Internet.” In other cases, sleep is compromised by problems like insomnia (suffered “a few nights per week or more” by 61 percent of women and 53 percent of men) or snoring (45 percent of men, 28 percent of women). Twenty-two percent of women are kept awake by a partner’s snoring, versus 7 percent of men. Children are an obvious risk factor for sleep deprivation in their parents, accounting for “sleep disruption” in 21 percent of women and 12 percent of men. Given all these problems, it’s little wonder that 43 percent of Americans say they’re so sleepy “that it interferes with their daily activities a few days per month or more.” Work is one such activity, with 31 percent of women and 22 percent of men saying they’re sleepy on the job two days or more per week. Eight percent of workers sometimes nod off on the job. An employer who hires young adults for their boundless energy may be in for a rude awakening: 40 percent of 18-29-year-olds (versus 23 percent of 30-64-year-olds) confessed they’re sleepy at work two days a week or more. The young folks are also twice as likely as their elders (22 percent versus 11 percent) to be late for work due to sleepiness. Happily, 16 percent of respondents said their employers allow them to take naps at work, and nearly half of these lucky souls take up the offer. On the other hand, 7 percent of those polled have changed jobs in order to get more sleep.