Americans yearn for more sleep amidst cultural emphasis on productivity.

If you find yourself stifling a yawn as you read this, you’re not alone. A recent poll reveals that a majority of Americans express a desire for more sleep, highlighting a pervasive sentiment across the nation.

In the United States, the ethos of hard work and self-reliance permeates both historical roots and contemporary society, often overshadowing the importance of adequate rest. Despite the prevalent culture of constant activity fueled by modern technology and work demands, the Gallup poll indicates a shifting trend. Over 57% of respondents express a longing for better sleep, contrasting with just 42% who feel they currently obtain sufficient rest—a marked reversal since 2013.

Particularly concerning is the revelation that younger women, aged below 50, are notably more likely to report insufficient sleep. The poll also reveals alarming sleep patterns, with only 26% of individuals achieving the recommended eight or more hours of sleep per night, while a significant 20% report sleeping five hours or less—a considerable increase from previous years.

The reasons behind this sleep deficit are multifaceted and not entirely clear. While the poll does not delve into specific causes, experts note a historical tendency to undervalue sleep as unproductive downtime, gradually giving way to a growing awareness of its vital role in overall well-being.

Joseph Dzierzewski from the National Sleep Foundation remarks on the evolving perception of sleep’s importance, acknowledging a recent shift in acknowledging its significance to physical and mental health. However, despite this progress, challenges persist, with many Americans, like self-employed event planner Justine Broughal, grappling with competing priorities that often prioritize familial responsibilities over personal care.

Culturally ingrained attitudes toward productivity and industriousness contribute to the pervasive lack of sleep. Historically rooted in the Protestant work ethic, this ethos glorifies hard work as a virtue and frames idleness as a moral failing. Jennifer Sherman’s research underscores the enduring impact of this cultural narrative, evident in the pervasive emphasis on individual responsibility for success and disdain for perceived laziness.

While the poll captures a broad trend over the past decade, recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated sleep challenges. Liz Meshel’s experience reflects the phenomenon of “revenge bedtime procrastination,” wherein individuals sacrifice sleep to reclaim a sense of personal time amidst demanding schedules and stress.

In navigating the complex interplay of cultural expectations and personal well-being, Americans like Meshel and Broughal confront the trade-offs between productivity and rest, highlighting the ongoing struggle to prioritize self-care in a society that perpetually demands more.