68 Scary Statistics About Sleep That Will Keep You Up At Night

Did you know men with Obstructive Sleep Apnea on average earn less money, are 3 times more likely to divorce, and are more likely to take sick leave than someone without OSA?

Here are some statistics about sleeping that will keep you up at night.

Are We Getting Enough Sleep?

The current recommendation for adults for sleep is 7h or more per night for the best health and well-being. 

And it seems very few of us get even that much.

  • Americans sleep less than they did in 1942, about an hour less.
  • Only 59% of US adults now sleep enough, versus 84% in 1942.
  • That means 4 in 10 Americans get less sleep than is recommended.
  • Older people (65 and over) is the age group that is most likely to get enough sleep.
  • Whereas each younger age group is getting less sleep.
    • For 30-49 year olds, only 56% gets 7h or more.
    • For 18-29 year olds, that drops down to 54%.
    • In other words, for those under the age of 50, only about half of us are getting enough sleep.
  • The statistics around INCOME and POVERTY are just as depressing.
    • For those with $75k or more annual household income, only 34% of people don’t get enough sleep (7h or less).
    • That increases to 39% if you earn $30k to $75.
    • And again increases to 48% for anyone earning less than $30k.
    • In other words, rich people sleep more.
  • Less surprising, people with children get less sleep.

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How Much Sleep Do You Need?

For teens it’s about 8-10 hours per 24 hour period.

And for adults it’s 7h or more per night.

What’s driving our lack of sleep?

  • Medical conditions and chronic illnesses like obesity.
  • Sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea.
  • Internet access.
  • Mobile phone usage, or social media.
  • More light at night (less darkness).
  • More noise, living closer to big roads or motorways due to increased housing developments and lack of adequate building land.

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Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders might sound innocuous but if you consider the effects sleep deprivation has on our health and the economy, you realize the damage that they can cause.

  • Insomnia. The inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, or simply waking up too early.
  • Narcolepsy. Excessive daytime sleepiness (including episodes of irresistible sleepiness) combined with sudden muscle weakness which are often brought on by strong emotion or surprise.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome. An unpleasant “creeping” sensation in your legs, or aches and pains throughout the legs making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Snoring. Can keep others awake but it can also be a symptom of sleep apnea.
  • Sleep Apnea. Periodic gasping or snorting noises where the sleeping person is struggling to overcome the inability to breathe.

Statistics about Sleep Disorders

If you think there’s nothing to worry about as these conditions are rare, think again.

  • 50 to 70 million adults in the USA suffer from a chronic sleep or wakefulness disorder.
  • Women who are obese are 3 times more likely to have a sleep disorder, and in fact, losing weight can resolve some cases of sleep apnea.
  • A recent questionnaire by the CDC to 74,571 adults, found that 35.3% of respondents reported having less than 7h of sleep, 48% reported snoring, 37.9% admitted falling asleep by accident during the day, and 4.7% admitted to falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days.
  • 25 million US adults suffer from OSA
    • 9-21% of women
    • 24-31% of men
  • 48% of people report snoring.
  • 30% of adults have insomnia.
  • 75-90% of people with insomnia have an increased risk of other medical conditions like hypoxemia and dyspnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, pain conditions, and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • 40% of insomnia patients also have a psychiatric condition, such as depression and anxiety.
  • In the USA, 135,000 to 200,000 people suffer from narcolepsy.
  • Problems falling asleep or sleepiness during the day now affects 35 – 40% of the population.
  • 8.6 million Americans now take prescription sleeping pills.

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Chronic Disease

Insufficient sleep has been linked to some serious health conditions:

  • Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes
    • Research also suggests that getting a good night’s sleep may be an important factor in improving or controlling blood sugar.
  • Increased risk of Cardiovascular Disease:
    • Hypertension
    • Stroke
    • Coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias)
  • Link between sleep apnea and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Obesity
    • Particularly pronounced in children. The theory is that sleep during childhood and adolescence is important for brain development and poor sleep somehow impacts the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite and the expenditure of energy.
  • Depression

Chronic Health Links and Statistics

  • 33% of people who get less than 7h of sleep a night reported as obese, vs 26.5% who sleep more than 7h.
  • 27.2% of people who get less than 7h of sleep are physically inactive, with 22.9% being smokers, and 19.4% consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, all higher than those who get more than 7h of sleep.
  • You are also more at risk of Chronic Health Conditions. For those sleeping less than 7h, you are at a higher risk of the following versus those who sleep more than 7h:
    • Heart attack 4.8%
    • Stroke 3.6%
    • Coronary heart disease 4.7%
    • Asthma 16.5%
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 8.6%
    • Arthritis 28.8%
    • Depression 22.9% versus 14.6% for those who sleep more than 7h
    • Chronic kidney disease 3.3%

Medical and Other Errors due to fatigue:

  • A report by the Institute of Medicine claimed that between 44,000 to 98,000 deaths per year occur in hospitals due to errors made by overworked staff.
  • A report by M J Green in 1995 found that 51% of doctors reported serious errors because they have too many tasks to do, with 41% of doctors attributing errors to fatigue and overwork.
  • Ralph Lydic in a 2002 study reviewed the negative influence of lack of sleep, sleepiness or fatigue, and found 100,000 crashes with 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.
  • Steve K Howard and colleagues noted that anesthesiologists reported fatigue played a factor in 3% of cases, out of 5,600 critical incidents. Needle sticks related to carelessness would increase with sleep loss, and female residents have more preterm deliveries after working 100h+ , as well as hypertension, preterm labor and small babies.
  • A 2012 National Sleep Foundation survey had one in five pilots admitting that they had made a serious error due to sleep deprivation.

Statistics About Sleep That Will Keep You Up At Night

Economic and Human Impact

The economic impact due to sleep deprivation is severe. 

From car or plane crashes to doctors making mistakes or workplace accidents, death is too often a result of sleep deprivation.

Not to mention increased health costs, often the responsibility of individuals through direct bills or increased insurance premiums.

Of course environmental disasters have a long term impact on our physical and mental well being, often impacting new born babies or children as they are growing up.

Here are some examples:

  • Human and environmental health disasters attributed to sleep loss or night shift work related performance failures include:
    • Bhopal Chemical Plant in India
    • Nuclear reactor meltdowns at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl
    • Grounding of the Star Princess cruise ship
    • Grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker
  • Lower academic performance
  • Changes in Daylight Saving Time:
    • Changes in DST messes with our circadian rhythms leading to more work place accidents and increase in heart attacks during the 1st 3 weeks after the switch to DST.
    • An Australia study reported an increase in suicides after the November DST change, likely due to an increase in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  • Plane crashes:
    • On May 31, 2009, an Air France plane crashed into the Atlantic, killing all 228 people on board. A judicial report found that the pilot had slept just one hour prior to the flight.
    • Also in 2009, Continental Connection Flight 188 crashed just outside of Buffalo, killing 49 passengers. The pilot had reportedly pulled an all-nighter before take-off.
  • Medical errors amongst nurses and doctors
    • $350k awarded to the parents of Libby Zion after her death after the jury concluded the hospital was negligent with regard to the manner in which its house staff was supervised (i.e. not enough doctors per patient).
  • Car crashes
  • In the workplace, highly fatigued workers were 70% more likely to be involved in an accident.
  • A 20 year study in Sweden of nearly 50,000 people found that those workers who report to have disturbed sleep were nearly twice as likely to die in a work-related incident.
  • A study of people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are 3 times more likely to divorce than people without OSA.
  • Men with OSA earn less.
  • Men and women with OSA are more likely to take sick leave.
  • Medical expenses for people with OSA are twice as much as it is for anyone not suffering from the condition.
  • A study in Canada found that people with OSA spent more than twice the number of days in hospital than those not suffering from the condition, which can be calculated as an increased cost of services from $49k to $99k. In the USA that cost is much higher due to more expensive health care.
  • In 1995, Walsh and Engelhardt calculated the direct cost of insomnia in the USA was around $13.9 billion, and that it would cost $3 billion to treat everyone in the USA with sleep apnea.
  • Sleep related fatigue resulting in absenteeism, workplace accidents and other lost productivity costs businesses $150 billion a year.
  • And another $60 billion due to the inability of workers to adjust to late shifts.
  • Another study from 2002 concluded that the 27 million prescriptions for hypnotics were costing about $1.2 billion, and increased physician fees and medical expenses for insomnia were between $4k and $6k more than for patients without the condition. These are additional health care costs for individuals either through paying directly or via higher insurance premiums.
  • In 1995 $11.96 billion was spent on nursing home care directly associated with insomnia.
  • For OSA, the average costs of diagnosis and treatment over five years for an individual is over $4,000.
  • If you are obese and have OSA in Canada, over 2 years you are likely to spend almost $30k on physician claims, and another $50k to $99k for other services.
  • People with insomnia end up paying 60% higher health care costs.
  • The US sleep market is worth over $28.6 billion.
  • $1.4 billion is spent on prescription sleep medication.
  • $576 million is spent on non-prescription sleep medication.
  • There are 4,700 Sleep Centres in the US with a reported average revenue of $920k, and a bed count of 7-8, making it about $115k per bed.
  • The market for mattresses is worth over $16 billion, and for pillows $1.6 billion.
  • CPAP devices is a $4.3 billion market and growing by 7.2% every year, with a market penetration of only 12%, so huge potential for growth.
  • Those taking a prescription medication for hypnotics to sleep better are 3 times as likely to die.
  • With a 35% increase in cancer.
  • The market for smart sleep tracking devices or apps was valued at over $1.122 billion in 2016.

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As you can see from some of these sobering statistics, sleeping, sleep deprivation, sleepiness and sleep disorders can have a severe impact on our lives, our physical and mental well being, and our wallets.

And if not treated, lack of sleep can kill.

So getting a good night’s sleep is essential if you want to live a long and healthy life with money to spare for luxuries, or just for the future of your children.

Make sure you have a really good mattress that is good for your body and doesn’t give you a bad back. Considering how much time you spend sleeping your entire life, it’s worth it spending money on a good mattress.  If you can’t afford a good mattress at this point in your life, why not invest in a mattress topper to go on top of your old mattress.

If you are wondering how to go about buying a new mattress, check out my guide 51 Things to Consider When Buying a New Bed or Mattress.  

Pillows are also a very big component of ensuring a good night’s sleep, especially if you have sleep apnea.

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