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You Sleep Even Less Than You Think

How much sleep are you really getting? It may be even less than you think.

a snooze button on an alarm clock

Photo: Anthony Armijo

Who has the least to complain about when it comes to getting sleep?

Across the country, people lament that they don’t catch enough snooze time.

A study reveals that we get even fewer zzz’s than we think. The 669 Americans ages 38 to 50 who participated in this study slept an average of slightly over six hours on weeknights, despite spending an average of seven and half hours in bed.

What would you say if we told you that your race, sex, and income may have something to do with how much sleep you get? Interestingly, the study revealed sleep trends for each of these factors.

Who has the least to complain about when it comes to getting sleep? White women with higher household incomes, that’s who.

White women slept an average of 6.7 hours at night, followed by white men with 6.1 hours, then black women with 5.9 hours, and, finally, black men with 5.1 hours. People with higher household incomes spent less time in bed at night, but actually slept longer.

Scientists measured participants’ sleep with a motion-detecting device attached to their wrists. It’s not the best method for monitoring sleep, but it’s cheapest and allows more people to be tested. The device also monitored how long participants took falling asleep and how well they stayed asleep. Again, white women fared best, falling asleep in about thirteen minutes, and sleeping about 86% of the time they spent in bed. In contrast, black men took 36 minutes to fall asleep and slept only 73% of their time in bed.

What the study’s data means for Americans is yet to be determined, but what is clear is that though we report getting less sleep than we need, we get even less sleep than that.

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