The National Sleep Foundation released the results of its "Sleep in America 2010" poll this week. The focus of this year's poll was to identify differences based upon ethnic backgrounds which shape people's sleep habits and practices.

From the introduction to the poll, an explanation of how it was conducted:

In order to collect the information, a total of 1,007 telephone interviews were conducted among a sample of Americans. In order to qualify for this study, respondents had to be between the ages of 25-60 and identify themselves as White, Black, Asian or Hispanic. All households surveyed were within the continental United States. The survey averaged 16.6 minutes in length.

The full results of the poll are contained in a 70 page document available on the website of the National Sleep Foundation*. Some points of interest:

Most adults reported sleeping an average of 6.2-6.8 hours/night on weeknights, sleeping more on weekends and vacation, averaging 6.9-7.6 hours/night. Close to half of all respondents stated they slept fewer than 8 hours/night, even on weekends.

What were people doing in the hour before going to sleep? The most common response was watching TV (between 76-89% reported watching TV in the hour before sleep every night or most nights). No big surprise there.

31-37% said they felt that their sleepiness interfered in their quality of life. When specifically asked whether their intimate/sexual relationships had been negatively affected, 17-23% said that they had.

My first instinct after reading this was that perhaps people don't realize that watching an extra hour of TV can lead to their sex lives being adversely affected. TV or sex: the choice seems pretty straightforward, and if people knew that cutting back on television could improve their sex lives, they'd be shutting their TVs off in no time. Or so I thought. A little more searching online revealed that the British retailer Comet reported last February on a survey they had conducted of 2,000 Britons, in which they were asked what they would give up in return for a 50 inch plasma screen TV. They found that 47 percent of British men were prepared to give up sex for half a year in return for the television (more, incidentally, than the just over a third of British women who were willing to make the same trade)†.

Regardless, getting enough sleep is important for so many reasons, including staying healthy and being able to function appropriately, that even if improving your sex life isn't at the top of your priority list, by making sure you do get enough sleep you'll at least be less likely to fall asleep while watching your favorite show.




Dennis Rosen, M.D.

Learn how to help your child get a great night’s sleep with my new book:

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Successful Sleep Strategies for Kids: Helping Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up With a Smile!


About the Author

Dennis Rosen, M.D.

Dennis Rosen, M.D., is a pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist who practices at Boston Children's Hospital.

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