Something new to keep you up at night: A new international study has found Americans are among the most sleep-deprived people in the world.
In its first International Bedroom Poll, the National Sleep Foundation determined citizens of the United States and Japan between the ages of 25 and 55 get less sleep — on average — than four other nations: Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
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Among the key findings of the poll:
- Japanese and Americans report sleeping 30-40 minutes less on workdays than those in the other countries surveyed — averaging about 6.5 hours per night.
- More than half of Americans surveyed say they sleep less than seven hours on work nights, compared to two-thirds of Japanese, 39 percent of Brits, 36 percent of Germans, 30 percent of Canadians, and 29 percent of Mexicans.
- About one in five from the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom report sleeping less than six hours a night during the work week — about twice the rate of the other countries.
- Perhaps to compensate for less sleep, about one-half of Japanese and Americans have taken at least one nap in the past two weeks.
- Every country reported sleeping in on weekends, with an average of an extra 45 minutes of sleep on days they do not work.
"As the first international public opinion poll on sleep, the National Sleep Foundation 2013 Bedroom Poll makes an important contribution to the field," said Namni Goel, a research associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine who helped produce the poll.
"Although we know that everyone sleeps, the rather remarkable cultural differences within this universal experience have not been adequately explored. It is NSF's hope that this initial poll will inspire more research on this critical yet understudied topic."
Other findings of the poll: More than one-half of Americans and Mexicans meditate or pray before bed; one-third of people in the United Kingdom sleep in the nude; and more than two-thirds of people in all countries surveyed watch TV in the hour before bed.
To improve your sleep, experts recommend:
- Exercise regularly, which can improve sleep quality.
- Go to bed and wake at the same time every day.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and remove work materials, computers, and TVs from your bedroom.
- Don't let bedtime worries and problems interrupt your sleep; resolve to set them aside to deal with after a good night's sleep.
- If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
- If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, or stop breathing briefly in your sleep, contact a healthcare professional for a sleep apnea screening.
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