Sleep Has Not Declined Over Recent Decades

There is a popular view that sleep has declined over recent decades in industrialized 24/7 nations and that sleep deprivation has reached epidemic levels as a result, with work life most often blamed for this. However, it is unclear if sleep deprivation is actually a growing problem.

In a recent study, researchers in the United Kingdom used sleep diaries instead of retrospective verbal reports to measure the average sleep duration of almost 10,000 individuals over a 41-year period. The results of the study showed that people in the UK actually slept 43 minutes more in 2015 (8 hours and 6 minutes) than they did 41 years earlier in 1974 (7 hours and 23 minutes). The results apply to men and women alike, and to individuals of all ages and employment status- including employed individuals who are the presumed major victims of the sleep deprivation epidemic and the 24/7 society.

As the study authors note, these findings are hard to reconcile with the idea of an increasing sleep deprivation epidemic within the working population.

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