More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a new study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This study documents estimates of self-reported healthy sleep duration (7 or more hours per day) for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. Sleeping less than 7 hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.

“As a nation we are not getting enough sleep,” says Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Population Health, in a release. “Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.”

Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration Varies by Geography, Race/Ethnicity, Employment, Marital Status

CDC researchers reviewed data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based, random-digit–dialed telephone survey conducted collaboratively by state health departments and CDC.

Key Findings:

  • Healthy sleep duration was lower among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (54%), non-Hispanic blacks (54%), multiracial non-Hispanics (54%), and American Indians/Alaska Natives (60%) compared with non-Hispanic whites (67%), Hispanics (66%), and Asians (63%).
  • The prevalence of healthy sleep duration varied among states and ranged from 56% in Hawaii to 72% in South Dakota.
  • A lower proportion of adults reported getting at least 7 hours of sleep per day in states clustered in the southeastern region of the United States and the Appalachian Mountains. Previous studies have shown that these regions also have the highest prevalence of obesity and other chronic conditions.
  • People who reported they were unable to work or were unemployed had lower healthy sleep duration (51% and 60%, respectively) than did employed respondents (65%). The prevalence of healthy sleep duration was highest among people with a college degree or higher (72%).
    The percentage reporting a healthy sleep duration was higher among people who were married (67%) compared with those who were never married (62%) or divorced, widowed, or separated (56%).

CDC Healthy Sleep Tips:

  • Healthcare providers should routinely assess patients’ sleep patterns and discuss sleep-related problems such as snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Healthcare providers should also educate patients about the importance of sleep to their health.
  • Individuals should make getting enough sleep a priority and practice good sleep habits.
  • Employers can consider adjusting work schedules to allow their workers time to get enough sleep.
  • Employers can also educate their shift workers about how to improve their sleep.