Provocative New Insights From the Largest Consumer Sleep Study Ever Released

By | April 16, 2016

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Today at the Consumer Electronics Show, I was thrilled to be part of a historic presentation – we revealed the results of what will be the largest and most accurate at-home sleep study ever undertaken. I did this as part of an inaugural effort for a brand new company I co-founded with the best sleep tracking device: SleepScore Labs, a joint venture with the medical sleep device market leader ResMed (NYSE: RMD) and Pegasus Capital Ventures. I am devoting my energy to helping people sleep better for a few reasons. First, sleep has an enormous and under-appreciated impact on our overall health, and as a doctor I have seen firsthand its harmful effect on my patients, including seemingly unrelated issues like heart failure and hypertension. Second, after facilitating our national conversation on health for almost 8 years on my show, I find sleep to be the leading unexpected question on people’s minds. And lastly and most importantly, as we learned in the survey, America is drastically and dangerously sleep deprived; we learned that 79% of people do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep!

We launched this program in October of 2016 to foster better public understanding of sleep health and gather high quality data on how people sleep in the supposed comfort of their own homes. 20,000 individuals have enrolled in the continuing study, which so far has collected more than 1.53 million night’s worth of consumer sleep data.

How We Conducted The Study
Participants were self-selected and likely participated out of a desire to improve their sleep. More than 20,000 participants used the S+, the most accurate and comprehensive consumer sleep technology which objectively measures movement, breathing, light, and temperature, and assesses “sleep stage” every 30 seconds during the night. An additional 22,000 people completed quizzes that explored lifestyle habits, providing additional survey data and insight into habits, practices, stress levels, alcohol consumption, exercise, and caffeine intake, as well as various non-biometric factors. A total of 1.53 million nights of sleep data were assessed using the SleepScore by ResMed™ technology, measuring more than 11.1 million hours of sleep and 1.4 billion individual data points, which amounts to the largest objectively measured sleep study cohort in history.

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America’s SleepScore is 77 out of 100, and no one gets graded on a curve in the class. That is not good news. It indicates that the average person isn’t getting anywhere near enough sleep for optimum health. But there is good news – we can use America’s SleepScore as a teachable moment and national conversation starter about how to fix our country’s sleep. Our hope is that with the information we’ve collected, and the work we’ll be doing through SleepScore Labs, the average person will get easy, actionable information that they can start using to improve their sleep and overall health. This should be a priority for every American, and thankfully, we now have more useful tools.

Here are some interesting SleepScore insights from the study:

79% of Americans sleep less than 7 hours per night: Most Americans sleep one hour less. To put this in context, a recent study by AAA reported that sleeping as little as one hour less than recommended doubles the risk of a traffic accident.

Women sleep longer than men: Men average 5 hours, 45 minutes, while women average 6 hours, 9 minutes.

On average, Americans go to bed at 10:21pm and wake up at 7:41am: People in the Pacific Time Zone go to bed the latest, at 11:17 pm, and people in the Eastern Time Zone wake up the earliest at 7:40 am.

New York vs. Los Angeles: Even though it’s touted as the city that never sleeps, New Yorkers go to bed just under 3 minutes earlier than Los Angeleans.

Exercise is good for sleep: Any amount is helpful, but the optimal amount is 30 minutes, which correlates to 14 minutes of extra sleep per night.

Caffeine: Good news here! Three or fewer cups of coffee didn’t notably affect average sleep time much, but those who drank four cups or more slept 26 minutes less.

Alcohol: Surprisingly, those who had one or two drinks slept an average of 16 minutes more than people who had more than two drinks (or none at all).

Children can be both good and bad for sleep: Men with 0-1 children get the most sleep. Women with 2-3 children get the most sleep. Having more children seems to impact men more – they lose 45 minutes of sleep per night with 4 or more children, whereas women with 4 or more children lose 25 minutes.

Mattresses matter: The type and size of the mattress people sleep on appears to make an average difference of 20 minutes sleep per night (between best and worst).

Technology makes a difference: First cuts of the data show a clear benefit from the use of at least some smart sleep and wake lighting systems.

The S+ works: Perhaps the most uplifting data of all is that poor sleepers that have used the S+ have increased their sleep by 31 minutes per night.

Common sleep problems: Excessive fatigue during the day and taking too long to fall asleep were most common reported issues. Waking up in the middle of the night is a major problem for many Americans.

Pill popping is an issue: a huge number (50%) reported using a mix of 2 or more sleep aids, such as prescription medications, over the counter sleeping pills, and herbal remedies or food supplements for sleep. This likely reflects the selection bias of device users who had greater problems achieving sleep than the average American.

We will be looking more closely at these and other data in the coming months.

This survey gives us the tools to make a real impact on the pervasive public health problem of sleep deprivation. The SleepScore by ResMed™ technology and its capabilities can also be used across the consumer industry to evaluate the performance of sleep products and services and improve them so that they can be more helpful to the user’s health. The sheer numbers of people with sleep issues are staggering, but solving these problem has, until now, been a shot in the dark.

This is an ongoing study, and anyone can enroll to participate – we will be looking at new data for months or years to come. You can also get an S+ device at a deep discount and use it to monitor your sleep and develop better sleep habits. For more information on the “One Million Nights” campaign to find out your SleepScore, visit SleepScore.com.

For more information on SleepScore Labs, visit SleepScoreLabs.com.

And remember, when it comes to taking care of yourself, there is no replacement for a good night’s sleep.

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