Think over the conversations you’ve had in the past week. Chances are good that at least one of those conversations was about not getting enough sleep. And if, as you think back, it almost feels like some of the time those claims sounded like bragging, it’s probably not your imagination.
Teens may see staying up late as a sign of maturity. Adults take it as an indication of being young and vibrant. All ages imagine that being too busy to sleep means you’re important.
But the truth is that we, as a nation, are actually sleep deprived.
Sleep in America
The most recent Sleep in America survey finds that at least half of American adults feel sleepy three or more days a week. More than half report feeling crabby because of it, and fully a third just don’t feel well.
Sleep in America surveys have been taken since 1991, and even back then two thirds of respondents admitted that they didn’t get a full eight hours of sleep on weeknights.
Things have gotten worse, in part because of COVID-19. Some of the sleep problems researchers have found associated with COVID-19:
Researchers examined studies conducted in many different countries during the pandemic, and concluded that the primary cause of the lowered sleep quality was anxiety along with the lower levels of exercise and higher levels of alcohol use that were observed during the pandemic.
However, one large study found that people were 41% more likely to face sleep disorders after having COVID-19. Another study found sleep disorders were higher among all respondents than before the pandemic, but that those with COVID-19 had more sleep apnea, insomnia, disrupted sleep, and nightmares than those who experienced the pandemic without catching COVID-19.
An international review of studies on Long COVID found that sleep disorders and fatigue were common persistent symptoms following acute COVID-19 infection.
It appears that COVID-19 has physical effects on sleep quality apart from the anxiety-increasing effects of the pandemic.