Sleep Cycle has today released the inaugural report of the Sleep Cycle Institute, a new institute comprised of multidisciplinary health and wellness experts who examine Sleep Cycle’s internal data from millions of active users to gain deeper, quantitative insight into how lifestyle choices affect the quality of our sleep and how that, in turn, affects our overall health.
While future reports will look at more focused topics, the inaugural report took a broad look at the data to determine what we know about the best sleepers in America; how sleep varies by age, gender and geography; and what habits poor sleepers have in common. America’s healthiest, happiest and best-rested people.
An overview of the data
The Sleep Cycle app has more than three million active monthly users, and this report looked at three years’ worth of data, for a total of 148,116,221 nights of sleep.
Americans spend an average of 7 hours and 18 minutes in bed each night. They go to bed at 11:39 p.m., wake up at 7:09 a.m., spend 23.95 minutes snoring, have an average sleep quality of 74.2 percent, and rate their wake-up mood at 57 on a scale of 100.
As a population, Americans got six minutes more sleep in 2018 than they got in 2015 — 7 hours and 21 minutes, up from 7 hours and 15 minutes. Their average sleep quality has improved from 72.9 to 75.3 percent, but their wake-up mood remains unchanged at 57/100.
Sweet dreams are made of these
What do we know about the best sleepers in America? America’s healthiest, happiest and best-rested people. According to the data, the two factors that most significantly contribute to a good night’s sleep are exercise and simply getting enough of it.
- Americans who exercise enjoy better sleep, regardless of gender or age
- Americans average 10 extra minutes of sleep when they work out during the day
- Exercisers snore less (21 minutes) than non-exercisers (25 minutes)
- Americans who get more than 8 hours of sleep enjoy an average sleep quality of 82 percent — the highest sleep quality of all Americans
- These Americans have an average bedtime of 10:45 p.m. — almost an hour earlier than other Americans
Perhaps surprisingly, daytime coffee or tea drinking also correlates to higher sleep quality: Americans sleep an average of six minutes longer when they drink tea or coffee, and their sleep quality increases by .5-1 percent.
Early bedtime — independent of sleep duration — also correlates with positive sleep outcomes: Americans who wake up in the best mood (87/100) also tuck in early (11:04 p.m.) and average 7 hours and 33 minutes of sleep.
What poor sleepers have in common
Which Americans are getting the poorest sleep? Not counting Americans with newborns, here are a few things bad sleepers have in common:
- They eat late at night. Late eaters enjoy a poorer sleep quality than people who’ve had a stressful day.
- They had a stressful day. When Americans have a stressful day, they get even less sleep than late eaters (7 hours and 14 minutes) and wake up in a worse mood (54/100).
- They live in Hawaii. See “Geographically Sleeping” below.
Mars and Venus in dreamland
The data suggest that there are some fundamental differences in the way that men and women sleep — and these differences are more pronounced at different life stages. For example, on average:
- Women get 14-20 minutes more sleep nightly than men, depending on age
- Women age 55-74 spent the most time in bed (7 hours and 35 minutes), and men age 35-54 spent the least time in bed (7 hours and 9 minutes)
- At age 18-34, men are the last to bed (11:57 p.m.) and last to rise (7:25 a.m.); by age 35, they are up earliest (6:37 a.m.), and, by age 55, they are first to bed (11:07 p.m.)
- Men snore 4 minutes more than women, although both will snore about 20 minutes more at age 55+ than they do at age 18-34
- Men consistently wake up in a better mood than women, with men age 55+ at one end of the spectrum (67/100) and women age 18-34 at the other (56/100)
“In the research literature, we commonly see that women tend to sleep more but find their sleep less restorative than men and are at greater risk for insomnia,” said natural sleep expert Dr. Catherine Darley. “Knowing, too, the high number of women who experience sleepiness each day but push through with their activities regardless, it is not surprising that women wake with a lower mood than men.”
Geography also affects how Americans sleep: the Sleep Cycle data shows some interesting — and surprising — differences between states. For example:
- Wyomingites go to bed the earliest
- New Yorkers stay up latest and wake up the latest
- Ohioans and Marylanders report the worst wake-up mood (57/100)
- South Dakotans report the best wake-up mood (64/100)
- North Dakotans snore the least (20 minutes)
- Alaskans snore the most (35 minutes)
- Hawaiians spend the least amount of time in bed, are up earliest (6:34 a.m.), and have the poorest quality of sleep
- Vermonters spend the most time in bed (7 hours and 29 minutes) and have the highest quality of sleep (76 percent)
“In addition to factors such as climate, seasonality and daylight times, variations in culture may account for some of the geographical differences in sleep — like what time we have dinner, when we socialize or if we stay up late to do homework,” said Dr. Frida Rångtell, Ph.D., a doctoral student in the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University, Sweden. “Reasons for geographical differences in sleep are most likely interlinked, and regional differences in socioeconomic status, stress, crime levels, unemployment, educational levels, and incidence of chronic disease are other probable contributors. Obesity, for instance, is tightly linked to sleep disturbances. And, of course, people living in urban environments have more exposure to things like traffic noise and light at night that can also disturb a good night’s slumber.”