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Surprising Science

Americans Trade-in More Hours of Sleep to Work and Commute

Americans are working more and sleeping less, according to a recent study. On top of that we’re devoting more time to our daily commutes as well.

Americans aren’t getting enough sleep, and it’s not because most of us are binge-watching an entire season of House of Cards. It’s work that’s depriving us of our eight hours, according to a recent study.

Bourree Lam of The Atlantic writes that the top culprits eating-away American’s sleep time are socializing, grooming, watching TV, commuting, and most of all working. It’s not just our weekdays that are being affected, it’s weekends and holidays as well.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, sorted participants into three categories: short sleepers (fewer than six hours), normal sleepers (six to 11 hours), and long sleepers (more than 11 hours). Compared to normal sleepers, short sleepers spent 1.6 hours more working during weekdays and 1.9 hours more working on weekends and holidays.

Second on the list, contributing to sleep deprivation was a long commute. The national average sits around 25 minutes to get to work and The Atlantic reported in another article that 1.7 million people have a commute that runs over 90 minutes long.

The lead author Dr. Mathias Basner, Assistant Professor of sleep and chronobiology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a press release that these findings suggest changes should be made, and companies may be in a position to help.

“Potential intervention strategies to decrease the prevalence of chronic sleep loss in the population include greater flexibility in morning work and class start times, reducing the prevalence of multiple jobs, and shortening morning and evening commute times.” 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends getting between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. You’ll be more resilient against diseases and more productive during the work day. Researchers found that if a respondent’s day started before 6 a.m., they got around six hours of sleep. Whereas people starting their day around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. got an average of 7.29 hours.

If you’re sleep is suffering, consider moving closer to the office, negotiating a more flexible work schedule with your boss, or finding a different line of work. Unfortunately, those who work two jobs may remain in sleep debt until changes are made to minimum wage.

Read more at The Atlantic

Photo Credit: bark/Flickr


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