Three in 10 U.S. adults have trouble sleeping, nearly as many experience daytime sleepiness and many play catch-up on their days off work to erase sleep deficits, a new study suggests. Photo by Wokandapix/Pixabay
Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Three in 10 U.S. adults have trouble sleeping, nearly as many experience daytime sleepiness and many play catch-up on their days off work to erase sleep deficits, a new study suggests.
The study's results "underscore that sleep disturbances remain a major challenge for promotion of healthy sleep in the U.S.," the scientists said.
In addition to frequent sleep disturbances, high percentages of U.S. adults experience long-term sleep deprivation and chronic "social jet lag," the study found.
Overall, 30.5% of adults experience at least one hour of sleep debt, defined as the difference between how long people sleep on their days off work and mean weekly sleep duration.
And nearly half of U.S. adults, or 46.5%, experience one hour or more of "social jet lag," calculated as the midpoint between sleep and wake time on workdays versus free days.
The original investigation was published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open. The study used a nationally representative survey of 9,000 U.S. adults who averaged 48 years old.
Researchers also created a profile of sleep-wake patterns and the differences between workdays and free days among the adults from 2017 to March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
Sleep-wake timing was much later on free days -- 11:25 p.m. to 7:41 a.m. -- than on workdays -- 11:02 p.m. to 6:41 a.m., the scientists found.
On free days, the proportion of people going to bed at midnight or later increased from 25.4% to 40.9%, and the proportion getting up at 8 a.m. or later climbed from 21.4% to 47.7%.
A growing body of evidence suggests that maintaining optimal sleep-wake timing may be an important factor in managing obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the research paper said.
The scientists said that, to their knowledge, no previous studies explicitly investigated the sleep-wake timing and regularity of sleep habits across work days and free days -- essential components of healthy sleep.
The researchers looked at sleep on weekdays versus weekends for adults who were were retired, unemployed or students.
The research team, led by Dr. Hongkun Di from Tongji Medical College at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, included scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Among the study's limitations, the scientists noted that information on sleep was self-reported, not objectively measured and may have been prone to misreporting.
Data were drawn from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.