Each year, the National Sleep Foundation comes out with its Sleep in America Poll.  This year 1007 people (ages 25-60) from across the country were asked about their ethnicity and sleep habits, let’s look at the results.

Sleep Habits Differ by Ethnicity

This study showed that there are significant differences in people of different ethnicities in both the quality and quantity of sleep.  

–  African-Americans reported getting the least amount of sleep on worknights (6hr 14mins), and also needing the least amount of sleep (7hr 5mins).  This group is the most likely to include a religious component to their bedtime routine (71% of respondents).

–  Asians are the least likely to discuss sleep with a doctor, and most likely to get advice from family and friends.  They are also least likely to use a sleep medication.

–  Caucasians are twice as likely to be diagnosed with insomnia, or restless legs syndrome.

–  Two of ten Hispanics say their sleep is disturbed every night or almost every night by worries, though this is a concern for people of all ethnicities.

Improvements Needed

The majority of people reported that they get a good night sleep only a few nights a week.  If this is true for you, move your bedtime earlier by about 15 minutes every week.  This slow process allows your body clock to adjust, and allows you to shift your evening habits to the new bedtime.  When you are waking up before your alarm, and feeling refreshed that’s probably the amount of sleep you need.  Be cautious – if it starts taking you longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or you’re awake much in the night, then it’s probably too much time in bed!

A quarter to a third of all respondents said their sleep is disturbed by worry at least a few nights per week.  These concerns include problems of employment, finances, health or relationships.  If this is true for you, spend 10 minutes after dinner writing down the concerns that arise during the night.  Then, if you start thinking about them during sleep time, tell yourself “I already thought about that, and will have time tomorrow.  Now is the time to rest.”  One of the keys to this strategy is to make it a daily habit, and with practice you will learn to set aside your worries for daytime.

This valuable annual survey gives us insight into current trends in Americans sleep.  To read more of the report, go to http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-america-polls/2010-sleep-and-ethnicity.  What will the status of Sleep in America be next year?