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Americans Working Late, Sleeping Less

Sleep Habits Poll Shows U.S. Adults Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on March 03, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

March 3, 2008 -- U.S. workers are logging long hours and taking their work home with them, and they often wind up weary for their efforts.

That news comes from the National Sleep Foundation's 2008 Sleep in America Poll.

The poll, conducted by telephone last fall, included a random sample of 1,000 U.S. adults, mainly workers aged 30-64.

The poll's findings include:

  • Average work day: 9 hours and 28 minutes
  • Average round-trip commute: 47 minutes
  • Average time sleeping: 6 hours and 40 minutes

That leaves about seven hours for everything else -- family time, exercise, paying bills, errands, watching TV, or other activities.

But work follows some people home. In addition to their normal work hours, participants reported working at home for about four and a half hours per week, on average.

Not everyone did that; 38% said they never take work home. But 20% report working 10 or more extra hours per week at home.

It's not that people didn't think they need more sleep.

Participants said they need seven hours and 18 minutes, on average, of nightly sleep. That's 38 minutes less than their real-world average.

And while 89% say they've never napped at work, 26% said they would if their employer allowed it.

The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

(Does your job affect your sleep? Talk about it with others on the Health Cafe message board.)