GOTHENBURG, Sweden — July 18, 2019 — In honor of its 10th anniversary as the world’s first and most popular smart alarm clock app, Sleep Cycle has today released its third Sleep Cycle Institute report.
This report includes more than 302 million nights’ worth of sleep data for more than 4.3 million Sleep Cycle users in the U.S. and abroad. The report analyzes how our sleep patterns have collectively shifted in the last five years and how individual sleep patterns change as people move through different phases of life.
Sleep Cycle Institute experts also shared what they have learned in the past decade.
We’re sleeping more and better — but we’re waking up grumpier
Taken as a whole, adults worldwide have been gaining about a minute of extra sleep each year. There have also been small, consistent gains in sleep quality. Strangely, this has not translated into better wake-up moods:
By age demographic, women ages 55-74 saw the largest gains in total average sleep time (six minutes), while men ages 55-74 saw the smallest (two minutes). Men ages 18-34 saw the largest gain in sleep quality (2.7%), while men ages 55-74 saw the smallest (1.5%).
Meanwhile, it was also men ages 55-74 who saw the most dramatic decrease in their wake-up mood (down 3%), while women ages 18-34 saw the least dramatic decrease (down 0.6%).
*2019 data is only available for the months of January through April, so values may change by the year’s end. However, data from previous years suggests that the changes are unlikely to be significant.
The sleep phases of life
Sleep Cycle’s data shows that “college-agers” (adults ages 18-22) and seniors (adults ages 56+) get more sleep, enjoy a higher quality of sleep, and have better wake-up moods than adults in the thick of their work and child-rearing years (ages 25-55). However, daily stress (as recorded in user sleep notes) peaks during the college years and declines steadily with age:
College-aged men get to bed the latest (12:39 a.m.) and wake up the latest (7:57 a.m.), and it is interesting to note that by the time these men recoup the nine minutes of sleep they lose between the ages of 25-55, they are getting to bed at 11:31 p.m. and waking up at 6:50 a.m. — a full hour earlier than in their youth — making them the earliest to rise and the second earliest to bed (after senior women).
It is also interesting to note that, on average, women get about 20 minutes more sleep than men and enjoy a higher quality of sleep in every phase of life. They also wake up in worse moods and report more daily stress than men.
Observations from the experts
Sleep Cycle asked some of the Sleep Cycle Institute panelists what they’ve learned about sleep in the past decade. Australian sleep expert, neuroscientist and health educator Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib and Frida Rångtell, Ph.D., a doctoral student in the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University, Sweden, both pointed to recent advancements in our understanding of sleep.
“Sleep is not a singular function,” said Dr. Rohrscheib. “Many essential biological processes occur during sleep that are vital for our well being — regeneration of our tissues and cells, waste clearance from the brain, memory consolidation, and so much more.”
“One of the greatest sleep-related discoveries of the past decade is a sleep-dependent cleansing process of the brain using something called the glymphatic system,” added Dr. Rångtell. “When we sleep, liquid is flushed through the brain, which can clean out toxins and neuronal waste. Interruptions to this process appear to be related to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. That this important discovery was made so recently highlights how little we actually know about sleep and how much we still have to learn.”
Natural sleep expert Dr. Catherine Darley also spoke about the importance of investing in a comfortable sleep environment to promote a good night’s sleep.
“If there’s some feature of your bedroom that’s disrupting your sleep, change it,” she said. “Invest in a comfortable bed and linens and put blackout shades on the windows. Remove any projects, clutter or visible LEDs. Make your bedroom a pleasant, relaxing place that restores you. It’s incredible how improvements in sleep can improve other areas of people’s lives — everything from more enjoyable relationships with loved ones to improved concentration at work and an increased sense of calm.”