With thanks to all who participated, here are your responses to my question … Are you getting enough sleep?
We need more sleep
How well rested do you feel today? When I posed this question to assistants in my latest Weekend Poll, only seven percent said they felt well rested on the day they participated in the poll. The good news is that just over a quarter of respondents said that, while they could use more sleep, they felt fairly rested. It’s noteworthy that 25% said you felt exhausted or worn out.
We can all have off days – or nights – and so I also asked readers if you typically get enough sleep. Thirty-six percent of respondents were able to say yes, yet that was not the case for the remaining 64%.
Do you wake up tired, or refreshed?
However, while 36% of respondents said you typically get enough sleep, only 25% said you typically wake up feeling refreshed … and that’s down from 36% in 2019.
Thirty-six percent of respondents said that you wake up feeling refreshed. That’s close to the percentage of readers (33%) who said you typically follow routines to ensure a good night’s sleep. This is despite 56% of respondents telling me this year that you typically follow routines to ensure (or support) a good night’s sleep.
In fact, three of every four respondents said you typically wake up tired. That represents a nine percent jump from 2019, although it’s fairly consistent with previous years when I posed the same questions.
It could seem reasonable to assume that Omicron, the latest COVID-19 pandemic variant – and the associated disruptions to family, holiday and travel plans – may have something to do with 64% of respondents saying you’re not getting enough sleep. However, I’ve been posing that same question to readers for five years now. The fact is, a higher percentage of you said you’re getting enough sleep in 2021 than the last time I posed the question, in 2020.
The percentage of respondents who’ve told me you do get enough sleep has ranged from a low of 20.75% in 2016 to a high of 37% in 2018. In 2019, 26% of you said you typically get enough sleep.
This year, I asked if you’ve recognised any differences in your sleep patterns since COVID entered our lives. Thirty-five percent of respondents said no. Another 21% said there’s been sleep disruption here and there, though nothing ongoing. While 10% of respondents said you’re sleeping more – perhaps because there are fewer commutes, or for other reasons – 18% of respondents said you’re sleeping less. Another 16% said you’re sleeping less, though that’s attributed to factors other than COVID.
What can you do?
Family circumstances, such as being a parent of young ones (or, in some instances, teens!) or a caregiver for someone with health challenges, can impact whether sleep is a luxury or something we might take for granted.
There are strategies that can support a good night’s sleep. Consistency is helpful, as is avoiding bright lights before heading to bed. When you set your smartphone down for the night, leave it that way. How challenging would it be to refrain from checking email, social media and other communications as of an hour before you want to fall asleep? It’s good to avoid television and all electronics as we head toward bedtime. Research shows that the glowing light from electronic devices interferes with sleep, as it suppresses melatonin.
There are other tips on how to support a good night’s sleep. We want to avoid evening snacks. Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can adversely impact sleep. You’ll notice I asked in the poll about evening exercise. Everyone’s different, and yet we’re told that working out close to bed time can have the effect of recharging us, rather than encouraging sleep.
You’ll find more ideas in the data below, from readers who have adopted routines to support a good night’s sleep. Have a read, and see whether there are practices here you may want to incorporate.
There are some factors beyond control. For many of us, it comes down to a matter of commitment and discipline.
Sleep and resilience
If you were to do a bit of research, using the terms “sleep” and “resilience”, you’d find a number of articles highlighting research linking quality sleep to good health. That’s no surprise. You’ll also find references to research stating we can improve our resilience and brain function by having seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.
I know, from this year’s poll and those I conducted in previous years, that seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night will sound ambitious to many. This year, 30% of respondents reported that you typically sleep seven or more hours a night during the week. Another 30% sleep for anywhere from six to seven hours nightly. The window of sleep is five to six hours for 35% of respondents, while another five percent typically sleep less than five hours on weeknights.
Let’s try something
I’ll be writing more about sleep and resilience. For now, let’s think of the days we have remaining in this month. December is a busy time of year. There are plenty of demands on your time, and stress can be a factor even without Omicron impacting peoples’ plans everywhere.
In order to continue to be adaptable and resilient, we need to take care of ourselves. Yes, we have multiple deadlines and demands on our time, and these times may continue to be taxing. That makes a focus on wellbeing all the more important.
As we make our way to the finish line of 2021, and prepare for the new year ahead, will you join me in a year-end challenge? Can you imagine the positive impacts if each of us committed to closing out 2021 by reclaiming 60 minutes a day to nourish our wellbeing? Let’s think about both sleep and exercise.
First, where in your day could you find 30 minutes to go for a walk, even if it’s in or around your home or office?
Next, what could you remove from your evening or morning routines in order to gain an extra half hour of sleep – or, if sleep doesn’t come readily, an extra half hour of quiet time without a screen in front of your face? Here’s a wild thought: what if we find ourselves so positively impacted by whatever reclamations of time we do achieve that we extend the commitment in the year ahead, to the point that such choices become habits?
I am a realist, even as I’m optimistic. These 60 minutes may not come easily, and we may not secure them every day during a month that’s traditionally hectic. Any time you do reclaim for your own good health and resilience, though, will be a success to celebrate. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sign off and grab some extra sleep!
1. How well rested do you feel today?
- I’m exhausted or worn out: 25% of respondents
- I’m a little tired: 42% of respondents
- I feel fairly rested, yet could use more sleep: 26% of respondents
- I feel well rested: 7% of respondents
2. Do you think you typically get enough sleep?
- Yes: 36% of respondents, compared to 26% in 2019, 37% in 2018, 35% in 2017 and 20.75% in 2016
- No: 64% of respondents, compared to 74% in 2019, 63% in 2018, 65% in 2017 and 79.25% in 2016
3. How many hours of sleep do you typically get on weeknights?
- <5 hours: 5% of respondents, compared to 9% in 2019, 8% in 2018, 4% in 2017 and 2% in 2016
- 5 -6 hours: 35% of respondents, compared to 36% in 2019, 48% in 2018, 44% in both 2017 and 2016
- 6 – 7 hours: 30% of respondents, compared to 38% in 2019, 19% in 2018, 33% in 2017 and 27% in 2016
- 7 – 8 hours: 26% of respondents, compared to 17% in 2019, 13% in both 2018 and 2017, and 9.5% in 2016
- > 8 hours: 4% of respondents, compared to 0% in 2019, 2% in 2018, 6% in 2017 and 2% in 2016
4. Do you try to get extra hours of sleep on the weekend, or are your sleep patterns (whatever they may be) consistent throughout the week? Note: 2021 marks the first year I posed this question.
- Yes: 68% of respondents
- No: 32% of respondents
5. Do you typically exercise after 7:00 p.m.?
- Yes: 2% of respondents, compared to 10% in 2019
- No: 98% of respondents, compared to 90% in 2019
6. Do you intentionally refrain from eating after a certain point in the evening?
- Yes: 2% of respondents, compared to 60% in 2019, 61% in 2018, 56% in 2017 and 44% in 2016
- No: 98% of respondents, compared to 40% in 2019, 39% in 2018, 44% in 2017 and 56% in 2016
7. I asked readers if you engage in the following activities during the hour before you turn out the lights. Here’s a snapshot.
- 24% of respondents watch TV, compared to 23% in 2019, 80% in 2018, 78% in 2017 and 85% in 2016
- 21% read, compared to 14% in 2019, 67% in 2018, 29% in 2017 and 63% in 2016
- 3% eat, compared to 4% in 2019
- 19% go online, compared to 18% in 2019, 37% in 2018, 80% in 2017 and 75% in 2016 (in prior years, I identified this response option as “use their iPad/tablet”)
- 9% check email, compared to 13% in 2019 and 57% in 2018
- 6% respond to their email, compared to 8% in 2019 and 35% in 2018
- 3% check their online calendars, compared to 17% in 2019 and 37% in 2018
- 10% check others’ social media posts, compared to 9% in 2019 and 83% in 2018
- 5% post to social media, compared to 4% in 2019 and 52% in 2018
7. Do you typically sleep within six feet/two meters of your phone?
- Yes: 69% of respondents, compared to 73% in 2018, 65% in 2017 and 65% in 2016
- No: 31% of respondents, compared to 27% in 2018, 29% in 2017 and 33% in 2016
8. Do you typically check your phone or other electronic media after turning out the lights?
- Yes: 71% of respondents, compared to 31% in 2019, 29% in 2018, 22% in 2017 and 26% in 2016
- No: 29% of respondents, compared to 69% in 2019, 71% in 2018, 78% in 2017 and 71% in 2016
9. Do you typically check your phone or other electronic media after turning out the lights? Note: 2021 marks the first year I posed this question.
- Yes: 38% of respondents
- No: 62% of respondents
10. Do you typically wake up refreshed, or tired?
- Tired: 75% of respondents, compared to 64% in 2019, 73% in both 2018 and 2017, and 78% in 2016
- Refreshed: 25% of respondents, compared to 36% in 2019, 22% in both 2018 and 2017, and 16% in 2016
11. Do you typically follow routines to help ensure a good night’s sleep?
- Yes: 56% of respondents, compared to 33% in both 2019 and 2018, 54% in 2017 and 47% in 2016
- No: 44% of respondents, compared to 67% in both 2019 and 2018, 2018, 46% in 2017 and 49% in 2016
12. If you take transit to work, do you tend to nap during the journey?
- Yes: 20% of respondents, compared to 32% in 2019, 14% of respondents in 2018 and 21% in 2017
- No: 65% of respondents, compared to 68% in 2019, 86% in 2018 and 79% in 2017
- Only occasionally; it’s not typical: 15% of respondents (2021 is the first year I provided this option)
13. Do you recognise any differences in your sleep patterns since the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting our lives?
- No: 35% of respondents
- There’s been sleep disruption here and there, though nothing ongoing: 21% of respondents
- Yes; I tend to sleep more: 10% of respondents
- Yes, I tend to sleep less: 18% of respondents
- Yes, though I’d attribute that to factors other than COVID: 16% of respondents
14. I asked readers who have adopted sleep routines to briefly identify them. Here’s what these readers offered.
- We have electronics that emit blue light in our bedroom. I put something in front of it each night, so it doesn’t impact sleep.
- Without a commute, the alarm clock is off! We wake when the dogs do. The stress of commuting to arrive on time is GONE
- In bed by 10.30. Try not to check phone but that’s difficult. No lights or food after 9.00 p.m.
- Hot bath, lights off at 10PM, and devices off at 10 pm
- Exercise and meditation
- I don’t work in an office anymore, so I can get as much sleep as I need, including napping
- I take a bath prior to sleeping and have a white noise machine that plays rain for 45 minutes.
- With kids at home they do not go to bed regularly and I find I try to stay up too … teenagers don’t always listen to bed time nor their bodies. I’m trying to go to sleep earlier while they are still awake. Lights are all on when I wake.
- Listen to music
- Writing before sleep, the worst and the best in the day, briefly. Sometimes I reread what I wrote months ago, and (it) helps me to improve my memory.
- Listen to sleep stories
- Warm shower, herbal night spray on pillows, relaxation sleep music
- Listening to music before I fall in sleep
- No screens of any kind in the bedroom
- I try to go to bed at the same time every night.
- Switching lights earlier and resting my eyes
- I need to read before I go to sleep.
- My sleep pattern has changed to where I am getting up earlier in the morning. This may, in part, be attributed to the fact that I have had to support my executive for extended periods of time while he worked remotely in a time zone that is 3 hours ahead of mine. It has not caused me to feel any more tired or refreshed than I usually do.
- Avoid caffeine
- I have gone to bed early to ensure I get quality sleep. Even though I do not commute every day and can get up later some days, I find it tiring working from home.
- I watch a movie on TV (and) I usually fall asleep watching. Read a book in bed and fall asleep reading. Most days/nights lights are dimmed at 8pm and I head to bed at 10:00 pm and wake up at 4:30. I sleep about 2 maybe 3 hours and then have to get up and move for about 30 minutes or so, then back to bed and read and fall asleep, and repeat until time to get up.
- No caffeine or sweet things after dinner
- I go to bed at a consistent time
- I love to read before calling it a night.
- (I’m) using commute time to sleep in each morning and get up later
15. If you work from home/have worked from home in recent times, do you ever use your bedroom as a home office?
- No: 86% of respondents
- Yes, I do – this is my norm when working from home: 2% of respondents
- Yes, I do – though only occasionally when working from home: 12% of respondents
16. I then asked those who do use your bedrooms as offices to describe your working conditions. In descending order the rates at which various approaches were mentioned, here’s what you told me.
- I have a separate desk or table and a chair in the room
- I work from my bed with a laptop bed table
- I sit on the edge of my bed, with my laptop and supplies on an adjacent table/ironing board/other stand
- I do not have a desk in the room, and I use a combination of two or more of the options shown here