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Sleep Stats: The Most Important Sleep Health Statistics

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Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry
Chief Medical Officer
iconLast updated 2nd November 2022
In 30 seconds

Sleep is one of the most important things for our overall well-being. But many of us are not getting enough. Here, we’re sharing some essential sleep stats – including how many of us are getting the recommended amount of sleep, the most common sleep issues, and what we can do to improve it. Read on to discover the crucial numbers from recent sleep research.

How Much Sleep are We Getting? The Stats

According to the NHS, adults are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Yet not all of us are hitting that target. Here are the numbers you should know when it comes to how many of us are truly meeting our sleep needs.

  • On average, UK adults sleep for 6 hours a night (Aviva, 2017)
    • 48% of UK adults say they don’t get the right amount of sleep, with 54% of women and 41% of men agreeing
    • Improving sleep is the biggest health ambition for 26% of UK adults
  • 62% of adults globally say they don’t get as much sleep as they would like (Philips Global Sleep Survey, 2019)
  • 42.6% of single parents sleep less than 7 hours a night – compared to 32.7% of adults in two-parent households (National Health Interview Survey, 2016)
  • Black adults in the US are twice as likely as white adults to report sleeping too little and 60% more likely to report sleeping too much (Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports, 2013)
  • About 33% of US adults don’t get enough sleep, according to one estimate (CDC, 2018)
  • 44% of American adults feel sleepy during the day 2 to 4 days a week. 28% report the same 5-7 days a week (Sleep Foundation, 2020)

Sleep Statistics by Age Group

The amount of sleep we need – and the amount of sleep we get – differs by age. But by how much?

  • Over 10% of adolescents aren’t getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep in the UK (Loughborough University, 2019)
  • 46% of adults aged 18 to 29 years old sleep less than 6 hours a night (Gallup, 2013)
    • 44% of adults aged 30 to 49 sleep less than 6 hours
    • 38% of adults between 50 and 64 have a short sleep duration
  • 30-48% of older adults have insomnia (Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2018)
  • 25% of young children have sleep problems or excessive daytime sleepiness (Journal of Pediatric Healthcare, 2004)
  • 40% of Canadian adults reported that their children’s sleep had worsened during COVID-19 (Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 2021)

Statistics About What Happens When We Sleep

While we talk a lot about sleep, what is actually happening when we get our 40 winks? Here’s a sense of what your body’s up to:

Sleep Problems: The Statistics

While many people take sleep for granted, others can struggle to get the sleep they need. Sleep problems may be a lot more common than we realise. In fact, sleep deprivation is often described as a serious public health problem.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Causes of Sleep Disturbance

So, why are we not sleeping well enough? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • 81% of respondents to one survey said that generalised anxiety was the main obstacle to a good night’s sleep (Anxiety UK, 2021)
    • 52.1% said it was due to work stress
  • 70 million people in Europe are exposed to unhealthy levels of noise pollution at night (European Environment Agency, 2019)
  • 60% of people with heartburn says that it affects their sleep (American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2003)
  • 75% of people with depression have insomnia (Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 2008)
  • For men, drinking more than two servings of alcohol a day was found to reduce sleep quality by 39.2% (JMIR Mental Health, 2018)
  • A 30-minute increase in playing video games every day increases the likelihood of reporting poor sleep by 30%, according to one study (Institute of Labor Economics, 2017)
    • Similarly, a 30-minute increase in evening use of smartphones correlates with a 30% greater risk of sleeping for less than 6 hours

The Risks of Insufficient Sleep in Numbers

What is the risk of poor sleep?

  • 48% of UK adults and 66% of teenagers agree that bad sleep has a negative impact on their mental health (Facts about sleep, 2022)
    • 27% of unemployed people report experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings due to a lack of sleep
  • 81.5% feel drained due to lack of sleep, while 69.7% feel irritable, and 55.7% feel emotional, according to a recent survey (Anxiety UK, 2021)
  • People who sleep less than 7 hours in a 24-hour period are at greater risk of obesity (BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, 2018)
  • People who sleep less than six hours each night are at 20-32% greater risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) than those who get enough sleep (Sleep Medicine Clinics, 2016)
  • 4% of adults say they fell asleep while driving at least once in the last 30 days, according to a survey of 150,000 US adults (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention MMWR, 2013)
    • People who slept less than 6 hours a night were more likely to fall asleep while driving
  • 20% of driving accidents are thought to be sleep-related (UK Parliament Research Briefing, 2018)
  • Sleep deprivation costs the UK economy £30 billion every year, according to one estimate (Rand Health Quarterly, 2017)

Treating Poor Sleep

Finally, what can people do to help their sleep? And what are people doing already?

  • 13% of UK adults drink alcohol to aid sleep (Aviva, 2017)
  • 28.2% of US adults use a smartphone app to track their sleep (Health Communication, 2019)
  • The NHS issued 15.3 million prescriptions for sleep aids in 2012 (The Guardian, 2012)
  • Melatonin helped people fall asleep 7 minutes faster, sleep longer, and have healthy sleep, according to a 2013 meta-analysis (PLOS One, 2013)
  • Melatonin may help shift workers sleep for an extra 24 minutes a day, according to one meta-analysis (Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, 2014)

Key Takeaways

Sleep is a hugely complex topic – and poor sleep can be a frustrating reality for many. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are sleep aids out there – such as melatonin – that can work. 

FAQs

What Percentage of the Population Has Trouble Sleeping?

In the UK, studies suggest that 48% of adults say they don’t get the right amount of sleep. According to global studies, 62% of adults say they don’t get as much sleep as they would like.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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