Why Americans Are Among the Most Sleepless People in the World

  • Share
  • Read Later
PM Images/Getty Images

A new survey finds that Americans are among the world’s leaders in sleep deprivation, along with the French and Taiwanese. Lack of sleep is detrimental to our overall productivity, of course, but it also has potentially troubling implications for health. So what’s keeping everybody up at night?

The global survey, conducted by the Amsterdam-based Philips Center for Health and Well-Being, a research arm of the medical technology giant, used its own index to measure aspects of health and well-being such as job satisfaction, diet and relationship satisfaction.  One area of questioning focused on sleeplessness, its causes and outcomes. The researchers found that people’s reasons for sleep deprivation varied greatly.

The majority of Americans (49%), Indians (54%) and Singaporeans (43%) reported not getting enough z’s because they were too worried or stressed out to sleep. In contrast, the majority of Brazilians (41%), Taiwanese (63%) and Germans (55%) were sleep deprived because they tended to go to sleep late and wake up early. Meanwhile, 45% of Brits and Belgians reported being unable to sleep because of an actual disorder or bout of insomnia. (More on Time.com: Is a Wandering Mind an Unhappy One?)

Across the board, Americans who sat up worrying at night were fretting about finances: 66% said they were concerned about paying their bills, and two-thirds of that group said they worried specifically about health-care bills. In addition, 74% of respondents said they were stressed out by the general state of the economy.

New York City in particular had the dubious distinction of being the most sleep-deprived major city in the world, beating out Tokyo, Jakarta, Beijing and Delhi, among others, with 48% of New Yorkers saying they did not get enough sleep. (Then again, maybe New Yorkers just like to kvetch more than their counterparts in Asia.) (More on Time.com: 5 Ways to Beat the Winter Doldrums)

Of the Americans who reported being sleep deprived, more than half — 57% — said it affected their physical health, 48% said they thought it affected their mental health and 46% thought it affected home life. Also, according to a recent study from AAA, with so many of us running on fumes, it may be putting the public at risk: 2 out of 5 U.S. drivers admitted to have ever fallen asleep at the wheel, and more than a quarter said they were so tired they struggled to keep their eyes open while driving in the past month.

If you find your mind unable to relax when you hit the pillow, the National Sleep Foundation has a few strategies for managing stress-induced insomnia.

More on Time.com:

Study: Breast-Feeding Moms Get Just as Much (or Little) Rest as Formula-Feeders

Stress in America: Overweight Children Are Affected More

Study: Playing Tetris to prevent PTSD Flashbacks