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American sleep habits are improving, study says Pin It
Photo: Stocksy/Lumina

There’s no doubt that sleep is important to your well-being and that all folks could use more of it. Just this past fall, one doctor said a widespread lack of quality sleep is causing a “dream deprivation” epidemic of sorts. But here’s some good news: New data shows Americans are finally starting to get more sleep.

In the analysis, published in the journal Sleep, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania looked at data from 181,335 individuals between 2003 and 2016 and found the amount of time Americans spend catching zzz’s is increasing. During that 14-year period, the daily sleep duration of those studied started at an average of 7.5 hours per night and went up 1.4 minutes during the week and 0.8 minutes on weekends each year—which translates to more than 17 more minutes from the study’s start to finish.

While seemingly small, this uptick in minutes is significant in that it reflects real, ongoing change and an important new regard for REM. But the shift didn’t just happen magically: Researchers also looked at the participants’ habits and discovered that there were two key activities they tended to be doing less that made a big difference: watching TV or reading before bed.

“This shows an increased willingness in parts of the population to give up pre-bed leisure activities to obtain more sleep.” —Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, lead study author

“This shows an increased willingness in parts of the population to give up pre-bed leisure activities to obtain more sleep,” said lead study author Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, in a press release. “Also, the data suggest that increasing opportunities to work, learn, bank, shop, and perform administrative tasks online and from home freed up extra time, and some of it was likely used to get more sleep.”

Hold the phone—WFH provides employees with the opportunity to snag more sleep? (Bosses, take note!)

People aren’t only changing their bedtime routines in the name of dreams, but they’re also likely more concerned about their sleep health in general: The study noted that within its timeline, Google searches for “sleep” have doubled.

While it’s clear that sleep is now serious business (especially the huge trend of sleep tech), striking real change ain’t easy and doesn’t come overnight. But, if you prioritize it, you’ll likely soon notice some pretty stellar benefits—just like with drinking water and getting exercise. Think: increased energy, a boosted immune system, an improved mood, and better control over your appetite. Now, who’s ready for some shut-eye?

Travel a lot? Here’s exactly how to sleep well on a plane. Or, find out why sleeping pills don’t give you quality zzz’s.