National Sleep Association’s Bedroom Poll 2013

national sleep poll 2013After combing through the 56 pages of results from the National Sleep Association's 2013 Bedroom Poll the main surprises for me were the emphasis on scent, and the differences in how sleep deprivation effects were rated by good and bad sleepers.

This survey took in 6 countries and some 1500 individuals, who were interviewed by telephone. Sure, there were cultural differences, for example Americans and Mexicans like to pray before bed, while the rest of the world do not do this. I thought that the similarities were the most striking thing. It seems that no matter where you live, TV or Computers were the preferred bedtime activity. It also seems that the time slept is very similar in many different countries. The US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany And Japan were included in this poll.

Here is a link to the full PDF document, it is a fascinating read and full of graphs and comparison tables which will help you to visualize the results.

International Comparison Of Sleeping Habits – My Pick Of The Interesting Results

Lots of data in this poll, though for me the fact that country B sleep 11 minutes more (on average) than country B is kind of dry… What I loved in this survey were some of the more psychology-based findings!

If you sleep well, the effects of deprivation seem milder than if you sleep badly.

This one stood out a mile for me. Those people who reported themselves as being bad sleepers (“not getting enough sleep”) rated effects of disrupted sleep on things like productivity, mood and social activities and way bigger than those who reported getting adequate sleep. Here are some examples:

Social Life Impact:

impact of insomnia on lifesytleThose not getting enough sleep rated this as 79% (US)

Those getting enough sleep rated this as 31% (US)

Mood Impact:

Those not getting enough sleep rated this as 84% (again, using the US replies)

Those getting enough sleep rated this as just 58% (US)

So, it seems that not getting enough sleep may cause people to feel the effects of sleep deprivation more acutely, or at least rate them as more severe. It could also be that sleeping well makes us feel more optimistic, this might be an ‘it’s not so bad really,’ effect.

Whichever way around we put cause and effect, this area of the survey alone seems to scream out for more research!

Not Sleeping Through The Night Is Common Across All Countries

Here is a statistic that stood out – around 1/3rd of people reported that they rarely or never slept through the night. Of course, this is not necessarily an indication of low quality sleep. A quick pee break or waking up then drifting off again shortly afterwards could still leave people feeling nicely rested.

And so is napping…

Well, there were some individual country differences with napping. Japan and the UK were the biggest nappers of all. In fact, it is a badge of honor in Japan to be confident enough to nap at work! Again the figure of 1/3rd of people reporting napping in the last 2 weeks was surprisingly high. I’ll admit to the occasional nap myself, when my busy schedule allows.

Scented Bedrooms – But Was The Question Right?

This survey mentioned scent a few different times, even going into enough depth to name individual scents and pick out scented sheets. The number saying this was important was really high, more than 80% in most countries.

I’m going to have to question the question here.

If you ask people whether they prefer a nice smell, they’ll say ‘yeah’ as a reflex very often. I mean, are you suggesting this individual would happily live in a smelly bedroom?!?

People do like their bedroom aired, and without bad smells, sure. But heavily perfumed with floral smells? I’m kind of wondering about the survey at this point. Some people like this, others would find it irritating, while the majority would probably prefer some milder scent… fresh, but not so strong as you’d be likely to notice.

I could be wrong!

Finally Pre-Sleep Activity

There was a song in the charts in the early 90’s called ‘Television, The Drug of The Nation’, and if the results of the National Sleep Foundation Bedroom survey are anything to go by, this is just as true in 2013 as it was in 1993!

Across the 6 countries, between 66% and 80% of people watched TV just before bed. What surprised me even more was that between 51% and 65% used a computer or laptop in the hour before sleeping. That is not even counting those using mobile phones with internet access. Reading is still popular, at around 40% and other common activities included having a hot beverage or a bath / shower.

All-in all a fascinating survey – I would definitely like to know what was going on with the scent question in a little more detail though!