With the growing concern over sleep health, recent surveys and studies have illuminated the sleep struggles faced by American adults. A new survey from U.S. News & World Report has revealed concerning statistics about Americans’ sleep patterns, highlighting a national issue with insomnia and sleep apnea. The survey uncovered that more than 20% of American adults “rarely or never” wake up feeling well-rested, a significant increase in sleep-related complaints in 2023. Additionally, a shocking 43% have reported experiencing insomnia, and 17% suffer from sleep apnea.
Dr. Shelby Harris, the New York-based director of sleep health at Sleepopolis, offered insights into the specific worries keeping Americans awake at night, including stress from relationships and work pressures.
Bad Habits Leading to Poor Sleep
- Inconsistent bedtimes
- Screen usage in bed
- Overeating before bed
- Falling asleep with the TV on
- Pulling all-nighters
Previous findings from the National Sleep Foundation corroborate these habits, noting that the presence of electronic devices in bedrooms is rampant among both adults and children.
How Partners Affect Sleep
Relationship dynamics play a significant role in sleep quality. One in three adults reportedly do not share a bed with their partner, opting for a “sleep divorce” due to differences in sleep habits and preferences. Common reasons include snoring, restlessness, and conflicting schedules. An alternative to this, known as “Scandinavian sleeping,” where partners use individual comforters, is gaining popularity as a solution for couples to improve their sleep quality while still sharing a bed.
Elements Critical for Good Sleep
Survey participants ranked essentials for quality sleep, which included:
- High-quality mattresses
- Memory foam pillows
- High thread-count sheets
- Down comforters
- Weighted blankets
White noise usage was also noted as a significant aid by nearly 40% of the respondents.
Sleep Expertise: Building Better Bedtime Routines
The conversation around sleep doesn’t end with surveys. Experiences from individuals, including those recovering from mental health conditions, have contributed to a broader understanding of effective sleep practices. People with a history of conditions such as bipolar disorder have discovered tools for improving sleep quality that are universally beneficial.
Key to establishing good sleep is exposure to sunlight in the morning and darkness in the evening, along with a consistent bedtime routine. This routine conditions the brain to prepare for sleep just as classical and operant conditioning methods taught Pavlov’s dogs to associate a bell with feeding.
Components of a Soothing Bedtime Routine
Elements of a beneficial bedtime routine may include:
- Lowering room temperature
- Changing into comfortable nightwear
- Basic hygiene practices like brushing teeth and washing face
- Relaxing conversations with family
- Reading a book
- Writing down lingering thoughts
- Using blue light-blocking glasses in the evening
- Focusing on breathing when lights are off
Conversely, activities to avoid include checking emails, reading news, and planning for the next workday right before bed.
For those creating a new routine, it’s recommended to designate 15-60 minutes before the chosen bedtime for these relaxing activities. This time can include various practices such as journaling, listening to soothing music, or engaging in mindfulness exercises.
The natural human affinity for rhythm, a comforting constant since womb days, points to the benefits of incorporating rhythmic white noise or gentle rocking into nighttime routines.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
As the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for adults, it is critical to address the detrimental sleep habits prevalent among Americans. Understanding and reshaping these habits can lead to improvements in overall health and daily functioning. To assist in these efforts, resources such as the U.S. News & World Report survey can provide valuable insights for individuals and healthcare professionals.
Ultimately, embracing better sleep habits and routines could be a significant step towards enhancing the quality of life. For more information on sleep and health, visit the National Sleep Foundation.