In celebration of World Sleep Day, Royal Philips released its report, “Unfiltered Sleep: A Global Prioritization Puzzle,” which showcases the results of an international survey conducted online in February by Harris Poll on behalf of Philips. The survey looks at how 6,461 adults across 5 countries (United States, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Japan) perceive, prioritize, and prepare for sleep, as well as how sleep impacts daily responsibilities, from work to relationships and hobbies. The survey found that while there is little debate on the value of sleep, individuals face daily demands that compete for time, often leaving sleep diminished in the list of daily priorities. Through these findings, Philips aims to start a conversation about an important yet oft forgotten pillar of overall health and wellbeing: sleep health.

With a focus on health at its core, Philips understands that good sleep, in addition to eating well and exercising, is one of the key pieces to nurturing a healthy lifestyle. But as daily priorities shift and time becomes scarce, sleep is often the first on the list to be pushed aside. In fact, Philips’ Unfiltered Sleep survey shows more than 8 in 10 adults globally (84%) say that a variety of activities take precedence over a good night’s sleep and one could assume these may even get in the way of things like their love life, family, friends, and job.

“Sleep is vitally important to the ‘healthy lifestyle’ equation, but it is often cast aside as less important compared to the other fundamental elements such as eating well or exercising,” says Teofilo Lee-Chiong, MD, sleep clinician and chief medical liaison, Philips, in a release. “We need to start thinking of health and wellness as a table with four legs, each of which representing proper nutrition, exercise, positive mental health, and sleep—if we’re only focusing on diet and exercise, that table isn’t going to be balanced. Just a single night of sleeping badly can immediately impact our performance, safety, and sense of wellbeing—imagine what happens over months or years of not getting enough quality sleep.”

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We Recognize That Sleep Is Important

Across these 5 countries, there is little debate that sleep is important to overall wellness. In fact, 92% of adults globally say sleep is crucial to their overall health and wellbeing, while many adults also make a direct connection between quality of sleep and the quality of life and relationships. Some key findings include:

  • We think sleep is important to relationships: Approximately three-quarters of adults globally (74%) say good sleep is the key to a happy marriage. This is especially true in Japan (89%), followed by the United States (79%) and the Netherlands (71%).
  • After one bad night’s sleep, we feel the negative impacts: More than 8 in 10 adults globally (82%) experience negative impacts following just one bad night’s sleep. Adults in France (87%) and Japan (86%) are most likely to feel negative impacts. The top three negative impacts reported by adults globally are looking tired (40%), being less productive (37%), and feeling unmotivated (35%).

But there’s still a gap between recognition and reality. More than eight in 10 adults globally (84%) say something in their lives is more important than making sure they get a good night’s sleep. Key findings include:

  • Family time over a good night’s sleep: About half of adults in France (53%), along with just under half of adults in the United States (46%) and Germany (48%), say spending time with family is more important than a good night’s sleep.
  • Sleep beats job responsibilities…except in the United States: While only one in 10 international adults who are employed prioritize their job over sleep; this pressure to work seems to be slightly greater in the United States (13% vs 10% in each of the other 4 countries). More than one quarter of employed US adults (30%) indicate that sending late night emails, when everyone else is asleep, shows that you care more about your job.
  • TV is usually the last thing many do before bed: Adults globally vary in how they spend their time right before bed, but TV is by far the top choice (28%). And despite all the literature that screens should be turned off well before sleep, nearly half of adults (47%) say screen time (including watching TV, reading on an electronic device, checking email, looking at social media, and browsing the web) is the very last thing they do.

“Recognition of the impact of poor sleep is important, but taking steps to actively change negative perceptions of sleep is a different story,” says Mark Aloia, PhD, global lead for behavior change, Philips. “Particularly in the US, we have this perception that sleeping when we could be working is negative, and other cultures have their own challenges with fitting sleep into the daily priority puzzle. At the end of the day, sleep health is vital to the overall health and wellness equation, and it needs to be viewed as a key health pillar.”

Beyond raising awareness through education about the importance of sleep, Philips is innovating sleep solutions that work together to promote better health—from clinical devices designed to help people with sleep disorders, to lighting solutions to help people start their days naturally.