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Half of Americans Are Getting Less Quality Sleep Due to Stress

March 16, 2021 by Sara Wilkerson

 As part of National Sleep Awareness Week (March 14-20), ResMed, a leading digital health company, released a survey indicating that over the past year, half of the 1,000 Americans surveyed said stress has negatively affected their quality of sleep. The study also found that many Americans are ignoring sleep challenges that could lead to underlying health problems. 

“COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of our lives, including our sleep health, leading many people to struggle to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep at night,” said Carlos M. Nunez, M.D., chief medical officer for ResMed. 

According to highlights of the survey’s key findings, 35% of all respondents say they are having a harder time falling asleep or waking up. Another 32% said they are sleeping less over the last year, and 26% started taking naps more often during the day.  

In terms of sleep quality being broken down into demographics, women were more likely than men to report having concerns about their sleep quality, with 35% of women saying they had worse sleep quality over the past year, compared to just 26% of men.  

Among the likely reasons for why women felt they had worse quality sleep include stress (55%) and anxiety (45%). Men also reported these factors as negative impacts on their sleep quality, just less so than women, 42% and 35% respectively.  

Women were also more likely to report declines in other facets of their health, including the quality of their diet (29% women vs. 18% for men) and exercise (30% women vs. 20% men).  

When considering the impact working from home has had on Americans’ sleep habits, the survey found that respondents who have worked from home at any point during the pandemic reported having greater improvements in their sleep, diet, exercise, and stress management than those who haven’t. 

The survey also examined how ongoing sleep issues such as snoring could indicate underlying health conditions. 

“While data show that stress and worry are key factors impacting many people’s sleep, now is an opportunity for everyone to take measure of all of the factors that could be impacting the quality of their sleep, which could include sleep disorders that can have negative long-term impacts to overall health,” said Nunez. 

From the survey results, 58% of respondents said they snore, or that a bed partner has told them they snore.  

Of those who snored, 72% said they were not concerned about potential underlying health issues that could arise from their snoring, despite snoring being an indicator of sleep apnea.  

If left untreated, sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder, can cause individuals to develop conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Over 54 million adults in the U.S. have sleep apnea, but more than 80% don’t know they have it, says ResMed. 

Nearly half (46%) of those surveyed indicated their doctor has not asked them about the quality of their sleep, which according to ResMed, reinforces the importance of self-awareness when it comes to one’s health. 

“Sleep apnea can impact all types of people from all walks of life, and while some people are more prone to have sleep apnea, it does not discriminate,” said Nunez.  

“If you snore, have been told you stop breathing in your sleep, or feel tired each day despite getting enough hours of sleep, ask your doctor if sleep apnea – which is 100% treatable at home – could be the cause.” 

For more information about the survey’s findings, check out ResMed’s Sleep for a Better Tomorrow, an education and outreach initiative that seeks to build awareness of the critical role good sleep plays in physical and mental health. 

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