Stress, Work Environment Hurting Sleep

ResMed’s global sleep survey shows that, across the world, stress is taking its toll on getting enough sleep, as is the post-Covid return to the workplace.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, stress and work environment have impacted the sleep of people across the world, according to results from ResMed’s 2022 Global Sleep Surveys.

A majority of respondents reported stress had impacted their sleep, with a high of 64 percent in Brazil and a low of 35 percent in Germany and Japan. In the United States, 38 percent of respondents cited depression and anxiety as the reasons they do not sleep well at night. 

Released in conjunction with National Sleep Awareness Week (March 13-19) and World Sleep Day (March 18), the survey collected answers from 25,000 respondents in 12 countries.

Returning to the office also changed how people felt about the quality of their sleep quality. Many respondents said they slept better or longer while working remotely and felt more in-office working time made it difficult to wake up in the morning. Specifically:

  • 45 percent of Americans who reported working from home said they get more sleep compared to working in an office, and 48 percent of those who said they currently work remotely said it would be harder for them to wake up once they return to a physical workplace.
  • Germany (66 percent), India (65 percent), China (61 percent), and Australia (60 percent) ranked highest in respondents who reported working from home and predicted it would be harder for them to get up in the morning once they transition back to working in an office.

“Getting good quality sleep is a struggle for people across the globe for many different reasons,” said Carlos Nunez, M.D., chief medical officer for ResMed. “It is clear that the pandemic has caused an increase in poor quality sleep due to stress, depression, and anxiety, but our survey found that in most countries, nearly half of respondents say they’ve never sought professional medical help to improve their sleep or address underlying issues.”

While citing problems, many survey respondents also said rather than consulting with their doctor on how to get a better night’s sleep, they were instead turning to potentially unhealthy habits such as:

  • Binge-watching television shows to help them fall asleep (23 percent of Americans, 20 percent of Germans and British respondents).
  • Traditional medications or alternative sleep aids such as aromatherapy or tea (29 percent of Americans).

Notably, more than half of Americans said their doctor had never proactively asked them about the quality of their sleep. The trend was even higher across the globe.

The study also surveyed people on more significant underlying health conditions related to sleep. Approximately 52 percent of Americans reported snoring or being told they snore, but only 33 percent are concerned about health implications tied to snoring. 

“Sleep quality can be impacted by lifestyle changes and poor habits, but many people are struggling with undiagnosed conditions that may be the root cause,” said Carlos M. Nunez, M.D. “Sleep apnea is a serious health concern, but very few people are screened for the condition which impacts more than 54 million people in the U.S.”

In America, only 22 percent of respondents said they had been tested for sleep apnea. That percentage is even lower in other countries: 17 percent testing in France, 15 percent in Germany, 13 percent in the United Kingdom, and 12 percent in Singapore.

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