Who’s Losing the Most Sleep Over Politics?

By Ashley Little

We surveyed over 1,000 adults to learn about how stress over politics is affecting sleep health. 

Portrait of an elderly man with face closed by hand on USA flag background.

It’s the presidential election year, which naturally means that we’re all being bombarded by political propaganda pretty much all of the time. Whether it’s during a commercial break on TV, while listening to the radio on your way to work, or simply flipping through your Instagram stories, you’re sure to encounter some form of political talk on a daily basis.

According to the APA’s Stress in America survey, 2 in 3 Americans say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress. Having it shoved in your face every day can’t be helping. 

We’re in the business of helping others get better sleep, and if people are facing overwhelming amounts of stress from politics alone we’re never going to be able to do our job. We wondered, how bad is this problem? So we headed to the polls and surveyed 1,000 adults to learn just how much sleep Americans are losing due to their stress over politics. 

Keep reading to see the results. 

Top Political Issues Causing Stress

First we took a look at which political issues people are the most stressed out about.

The top reported political issue causing people stress is healthcare concerns, accounting for 16.8% of those polled in the survey. Under this umbrella of healthcare concerns lies talk about the future of Obama Care, Medicaid, and the legalization of marijuana. 

Coming in a close second place for the most stressful political issues is economic concerns, which causes stress for 16.7% of respondents. Economic issues include discussions around taxes, minimum wage, and equal pay. 

When it comes to people’s health and financial security, they care. And hearing political debates on matters of their well-being is clearly causing serious concerns. 

Which Political Issues Steal the Most Sleep? 

Next we wanted to find out how severely political stress affects the amount of sleep people get at night. If you have a lot on your mind, you’re likely to toss and turn, feel restless, and have trouble relaxing and sleeping comfortably throughout the night. 

The political issues stealing the most sleep were relating to the economy, domestic policy, and education policy. It’s also worth noting that the average amount of sleep for each of these categories of political stressors are all under the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep. 

When you’re experiencing increased stress, your body goes into its stress response mode, also known as the fight or flight response. With extra cortisol in your system, it’s very likely you’ll suffer from stress-induced insomnia and have trouble sleeping well at night. 

Which Political Party Sleeps the Least? 

Once we uncovered the issues that weigh on people’s minds, we wondered how sleep loss differs by political party affiliation. 

Between Democrats and Republicans, the political party getting the least amount of sleep on average is the Democrats. Potentially stressed out about their lack of power in the White House, Democrats aren’t racking up as many hours as Republicans. 

Surprisingly, those who report no affiliation with a political party average the least amount of sleep.

Which Primary News Source Steals the Most Sleep? 

In the world of fake news, we all know that what you’re hearing about politics varies by your primary news source. We wanted to take a look at how sleep patterns vary by which form of media people go to for their political updates. 

Our results show that listening to the radio as a primary news source results in the least amount of Zzzs on average, and those who read the newspaper are getting the most. 

Coming in second place for the least amount of sleep on average is word of mouth. One of the most unreliable sources of news, it’s no surprise that it correlates with low amounts of sleep at night.

Main Findings

Here are the highlights from our findings:

  • Healthcare and Economic issues are the top political concerns causing stress
  • Those who report Economic issues as the most concerning to them are getting the least amount of sleep on average (7.18 hours)
  • People who are unaffiliated with a political party are getting the least amount of sleep on average (7.06 hours)
  • Republicans get more sleep on average than Democrats (7.33 hours vs. 7.22 hours)
  • Libertarians get the most sleep on average (7.53 hours)
  • Those who listen to the radio as their primary news source get the least sleep on average (6.8 hours)
  • Those who read the newspaper as their primary news source get the most sleep on average (8.35 hours)

To cope with all the building stress this year so you can get some sleep at night, consider ways that you can healthily manage your stress. Exercising, meditating, and talking through the issues that are concerning you may be helpful. Also remember, staying well-rested should be a priority.

Do what it takes to get great sleep at night whether that’s investing in the best mattress, creating the ideal bedroom space, or even speaking with a sleep specialist to address larger sleep problems.

Check out our sleep resources to learn more about how to find your best night’s sleep.


Never-ending news cycles make it difficult to escape the bombardment of politics. Even those who don’t choose to tune into news-specific radio or TV shows end up facing political news in their social media, casual programs not focused on news coverage, or even word of mouth.

Research has shown that Americans make themselves sick over politics in more ways than one. People are reporting increased stress, sleep loss, and even suicidal ideation related to politics. As tensions increase, it’s all the more important to continue paying attention to how politics are affecting Americans on a personal and physical level.


We conducted a survey of 1,000 adults through the Amazon Mechanical Turk program in January 2020 to learn about the relationship between people’s sleeping habits and the political-related media they consume.

The political issues that are included under each category are listed below.

  • Healthcare: Obamacare, legalization of marijuana, Medicaid, Medicare drug prices
  • Economy: Equal pay, taxes, minimum wage, government spending, universal basic income
  • Domestic Policy: Gun control, net neutrality, drug policy, Social Security, affirmative action
  • Environment: Climate change, alternative energy, fracking, oil drilling, animal testing
  • Social Issues: LGBTQ+ rights, Planned Parenthood, death penalty, First Amendment rights
  • Education: Student loan debt, Common Core, charter schools
  • Immigration: Immigration ban, border security, sanctuary cities
  • Foreign Policy: Terrorism, relations with foreign countries like Iran, Israel, and Syria
  • Other: Electoral issues, science issues, national security issues, criminal issues, transportation issues

Fair-Use Statement

You’re welcome to share our results with your audience. We simply ask that you provide a link back to this page to properly credit us.

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