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The NSF’s 2020 Sleep in America® Poll Shows Alarming Level of Sleepiness and Low Levels of Action

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2020) – The National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) annual Sleep in America® poll shows Americans feel sleepy on average three times a week, with 62% trying to “shake it off” as their primary response.

“I have patients in my office every day who can’t understand why they are always so sleepy” said Dr. Paul Doghramji, physician at the Collegeville Family Practice. “It’s concerning to see so many sleepy Americans with no plan other than to shake it off” Dr. Doghramji added.

Those who feel sleepy five to seven days a week report especially high rates of irritability (52 percent), headaches (40 percent), and feeling unwell (34 percent). “Frequently, friends and family notice the effects of sleepiness including changes in mood and irritability before you do” said Dr. Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi, Pediatric Neurologist, Georgetown University Hospital.

The Sleep in America poll found when people feel sleepy, more Americans say it’s generally because they’re not sleeping well enough (55 percent) as opposed to not having enough time to sleep (44 percent). “Not getting the restorative benefit of sleep when you give yourself enough time for sleep could be a sign of other issues and should not be ignored” said Dr. Oyegbile-Chidi.

“These data suggest that people continue to avoid sleepiness as a symptom, but disregarding persistent sleepiness is ill advised” said Dr. Patrick Strollo, Professor of Medicine and Clinical and Translational Science, University of Pittsburgh. “Sleepiness isn’t normal. If you experience routine sleepiness you should address it” added Dr. Strollo.

The NSF recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults aged 18-64 and 7-8 hours for older adults aged 65 and over. Characteristics of a good night’s sleep include waking up feeling refreshed, alert, and able to be fully productive throughout your waking hours. The NSF’s Sleep Health Index® score – based on measures of sleep quality, sleep duration and disordered sleep – is worse among people who report having more sleepy days. In the 2020 Q1 Sleep Health Index, sleep quality, rated 64 on a scale of 0-100, was below average compared to prior Indexes.

“We know from prevalence and longitudinal data that one third of the population is concerned over their sleepiness as it affects their lives and ability to perform their jobs” said Dr. Maurice Ohayon, Director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center. There are simple and effective sleep tips to help you get a good night’s sleep. Sticking to a sleep schedule, even on weekends, and practicing a relaxing bedtime ritual are great first steps. The easiest way to get started is to start tracking your sleep. There are many devices and apps available to help you sleep better.

About the National Sleep Foundation The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. Founded in 1990, the NSF is committed to advancing excellence in sleep health theory, research and practice.

About the Sleep in America® Poll The Sleep in America poll is the National Sleep Foundation’s premier annual review of current sleep topics. The poll was first conducted in 1991 and has been produced since 2018 by Langer Research Associates.

Daylight Saving Time starts Sunday, March 8. Changing our clocks is a practical reminder of the negative effects of sleep loss. For the last thirty years, the NSF has released its Sleep in America poll with the start of Daylight Saving Time.

The full Sleep in America poll findings, the Langer Research Associates report, including methodology, can be found at or the Sleep Health Journal.

About the Sleep Health Index® The Sleep Health Index is a quarterly fielded, nationally representative survey of American adults; it tracks trends and chronicles our nation’s sleep health over time.

This quarterly Sleep Health Index was administered alongside the Sleep in America poll and explored stress and sleep. For more information on the methodology, go to the Sleep Health Journal.

Sleep Awareness Week tip: For optimal sleep, use blackout curtains to block out light and keep your room dark.

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