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More Americans say they are not getting enough sleep. Guido Mieth/Getty Images
  • New Gallup polling data suggests that more people aren’t getting enough sleep.
  • Women in particular say they are in need of more sleep with just 36% saying they feel well rested.
  • Experts say that these trends are cause for concern and action.

New Gallup polling data suggests that Americans are in need of more sleep.

The new data found that more than half of individuals surveyed or 57% said they would feel better if they got more sleep.

The last time Gallup conducted a similar poll was 2013, where the results were almost flipped with 56% feeling that they got enough sleep at that time.

Dr. Mark S. Aloia, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and head of sleep and behavioral sciences for Sleep Number, says that the data is cause for concern.

“These data [points] are quite compelling and, honestly, a little scary from the perspective of someone who studies sleep and the consequences of getting too little sleep. The results show a dramatic change from 10 years ago and the data 10 years ago were already alarming,” Aloia said.

All told, approximately 20% of respondents shared that they’re getting less than five hours of sleep per night, with 53% placing their daily sleep schedule in the 6-7 hour range.

Additionally, only 26% of people said that they got the suggested 8 hours a night.

Gallup’s analysis found a correlation between stress levels and less sleep. The study authors reported that stress levels among Americans have been increasing steadily in recent decades.

Stress levels have risen since 2003 when 33% of respondents saying they commonly experience stress in their daily lives to 49% in 2023.

Gallup found that as people’s stress levels have increased their sleep has suffered. They report that 63% of people who say they need more sleep also say they are frequently experiencing stress.

Dr. Tiffany Yip, PhD, a professor of psychology at Fordham University, says this data suggests that we should be thinking more about how we can increase our sleep while reducing stress.

“Stress is pretty inevitable,” Yip said. “I think the challenge and the take-home here is for people to think about the stressors that they encounter, and how they present themselves when they go to bed at night…Sort of thinking about ways in which maybe we can start to leave the stress of the day behind.”

Dr. Raj Dasgupta, MD, an associate program director for internal medicine residency at Huntington Health and chief medical advisor for Sleep Advisor, says that stress can take a major toll on sleep schedules.

“The different stresses that individuals have to go through, in my opinion, correlates with difficulty in having good sleep, which is one of the key things about insomnia,” Dasgupta said. “In some individuals, insomnia can be initiated from that acute stressing event.”

The report also found key differences for men and women getting enough sleep.

While nearly half of men or 48% say they feel they get enough sleep, for women that number was less, with just 36% reporting they feel well rested.

Additionally, for women between the ages 18 and 49, just 27% felt they were getting enough sleep.

Aloia says that medicine needs to do a better job when it comes to meeting the needs of women when it comes to sleep health.

“These are differences we must attend to in a thoughtful and diligent manner. For years we did not face gender differences in the right way in medicine,” Aloia said. “These results suggest that women, and particularly younger women, need support around their sleep health.”

Experts also said that Americans from certain races and ethnicities may face specific stressors that affect sleep leading to disparities among certain groups.

“The most consistent disparities there fall between Black and white Americans, although there’s also evidence of disparities for Asian groups and Latin/a groups as well, with similar patterns, shorter sleep duration and poor sleep quality relative to white Americans,” Yip said. “My research is trying to understand why that is, and what are the drivers that I focus on, in particular, is the stress that relates to discrimination.”

The good news is that experts agree that there are tangible steps you can take to get better sleep. Dasgupta says that one tool that he encourages people to use is a sleep journal or log. Other techniques include reducing screen time at night, optimizing your bedroom, and trying to sleep at consistent times.

“I think that we’ve all had a night out of nowhere, where I’m like, ‘Why can’t I sleep tonight?’ And maybe you could kind of piece it together. like, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t work out the last three days,’ or ‘You know what, I went to this restaurant and had that meal, and got heartburn,” Dasgupta said.

Aloia, meanwhile, is honed in on the need for continued conversations at the intersection of sleep and stress.

“The take away for me is that we must prioritize sleep and our mental health. The two are intricately connected. We have years of research tying sleep with mental health and it is time we make both clear priorities in our healthcare system and in our personal lives,” Aloia said. “And, as friends, family members, employers, care providers, etc. it is time for us to support one another around both of these critical health issues.”

A new report from Gallup finds most Americans say they need more sleep. Experts say rising stress levels may be behind change in sleep patterns.