World's Adults Need Better Sleep Habits

Global report: Most adults think sleep is important, but don't feel guilty for not prioritizing it.

Though nearly 7 in 10 adults (67 percent) said they consider sleep to have a significant effect on their health and wellbeing, nearly the opposite number, 29 percent, said they felt guilt for not incorporating healthy sleep habits into their lives. That's far less than the same number of people who said they felt guilty for not exercising, at 49 percent, and not eating healthy, at 42 percent.

Those findings are from this year's Philips sleep study, an annual survey that aims to look into what prevents people around the world from sleeping long enough and well enough.

This year's report, "Better Sleep, Better Health: A Global Look at Why We're Still Falling Short on Sleep," is based on survey results from more than 15,000 respondents in 13 countries.

Key findings of the report include: 

  • 61 percent of those surveyed said they have a medical issue that affects their sleep, with 26 percent and 21 percent saying they've experienced insomnia and snoring, respectively;
  • 77 percent of respondents said they have actively taken steps to improve their sleep;
  • Soothing music (36 percent) and a routine bedtime and waking schedule (32 percent) were among the most common methods respondents reported using to improve their sleep;
  • The steps that people take to improve their sleep, however, vary between countries, with Indians reporting that they turn to meditation at a rate of 45 percent, while Polish and Chinese respondents were most likely to seek to improve their air quality at 33 and 31 percent, respectively;
  • Worry is a common impediment to sleep, according to respondents, with 58 percent reporting that worry has kept them awake within the last three months, as are distractions from technology, cited by 26 percent of respondents;
  • Commonly cited results of poor sleep included looking tired (46 percent), irritability (41 percent), lack of motivation (39 percent) and trouble concentrating (also 39 percent);
  • Adults aged 18-24 were outliers "throughout the global results," according to information released by Philips, with those respondents being less likely by nine percentage points than other groups to report a regular bedtime and waking schedule, but also reporting more regular sleep, at an average of 7.2 hours per night versus 6.9 average hours reported by people 25 and older. They were also more likely to say they feel guilty about not getting enough sleep and to tell researchers they've tried to do something about it.

"Sleep is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. On a day to day basis, how well and how long we slept the night before is the single most important variable dictating how we feel," said David White, chief medical officer for Philips Sleep & Respiratory Care, in a prepared statement. "Thus inadequate sleep can have an immediate impact on our wellbeing unlike exercise or diet. This survey shows that despite knowing sleep is important to overall health, people are still struggling to address it in the same way they would exercise or nutrition. The more we understand how sleep impacts everything we do, the better we can adjust our lifestyle and find solutions that help us get better sleep."

For more information, including access to the report and the company's other plans for World Sleep Day, which is March 16, visit sleepapnea.com/worldsleepday.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is a freelance writer specializing in various markets including education and healthcare. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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