A Nation of Sleepyheads

A sleepy American is a crabby American. And more’s the pity, since a study by the National Sleep Foundation finds 47 million adults get too little sleep. (The chart indicates the age skew of the sleepyhead demographic.) How do people behave when insufficient shut-eye leads to daytime sleepiness? Not well: 44 percent said they’re more apt to have trouble getting along with others; 64 percent are more likely to become aggravated with waiting in line or being stuck in traffic; 65 percent said they’re more likely to make mistakes. One telling statistic: 21 percent of people who are often sleepy during the day said they’re dissatisfied with life, vs. 7 percent of those who seldom or never suffer daytime sleepiness. All told, U.S. adults are averaging 6.9 hours of sleep on weeknights. They get more sleep (7.5 hours) on weekends, but the old practice of catching up on sleep during that part of the week is in decline. In the current survey, 52 percent of adults said they sleep eight hours or more per night on weekends, vs. 61 percent in 2001. The number who sleep less than six hours per night on weekends is at 10 percent, vs. 6 percent a year ago. It’s not as if the sleep people do get is so great, either: 27 percent rated the quality of their sleep as fair or poor.