May 26, 2024

If you’ve been feeling the weight of insomnia lately, you’re far from alone. A new Gallup poll out Monday shows that a majority of American adults report not getting enough sleep — a first in the survey’s history. Though there are likely several reasons for this, many struggling with sleep also report feeling frequently stressed.

Gallup has been asking Americans about their quality of sleep since 2001. Back then, about 54% of Americans said that they got as much sleep as they needed regularly, while 45% said that they would feel better if they got more sleep. But with this latest poll, conducted in December 2023, the situation has basically taken a topsy-turvy. Now 57% of Americans say they need more sleep, while 42% say they’re doing fine sleep-wise.

Though this question relies on people’s subjective experience of their sleep, the trend is supported by other data collected by Gallup. In 2013, for instance, about 14% of adults reported sleeping five hours or fewer a night; by 2023, that figure had increased to 20%.

Gallup also asked people about their level of daily stress. In 2017, about 44% of Americans reported having frequently stressful days; in 2023, 49% said the same. Americans’ stress levels have gradually been getting worse for a while, following a clear drop in 2003, when 33% reported being frequently stressed. There might be several factors that explain our collective loss of sleep, but poor sleep and increased stress often go hand-in-hand, including in this latest poll. About 63% of those who felt a lack of sleep also reported being frequently stressed, while only 31% of those with adequate sleep said the same.

“Gallup polling and other research show a strong connection between sleep, stress, and overall health,” said Gallup writers Sarah Fioroni and Dan Foy in an article Monday discussing the findings. “Thus, the impact of both of these trends on Americans’ health could be substantial.”

These sleep and stress issues aren’t impacting everyone evenly. A greater proportion of women reported being more stressed and not getting enough sleep compared to men, for instance, with women under age 50 especially suffering from both. Older Americans, by contrast, were more likely to get enough sleep than their younger counterparts.

The connection between poor sleep and too much stress can go both ways; one can contribute to the other and vice-versa. The authors do note the pronounced lack of sleep in younger women seems to correlate well with other data showing that they’ve been experiencing relatively greater levels of depression and other mental health issues as of late.

Ideally, the best way to reverse these trends would be to ensure that Americans have more time to sleep and relax, especially younger ones. But that might be much easier said than done.

A version of this article originally appeared on Gizmodo.

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