What Keeps Americans Up at Night?

We surveyed 2,000 Americans to learn what stressors are keeping them up at night.

By Ashley Little

May 11th, 2022

It’s no secret that we live in stressful times. For many, stress results in difficulty staying and falling asleep.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to see if stress was the only reason why Americans are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep so we asked 1,500 Americans what keeps them up at night.

Over half of the folks surveyed indicate getting less than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep at night. The top two reasons behind this? Stress about daily life and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let’s take a look at our other findings.

Are Americans Getting Enough Sleep?

To start, let’s review why sleep is important. Sleep allows the body to repair and restore your heart and blood vessels. Without enough sleep, you’re more at risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and high blood pressure. (1)

Our survey found that 63% of respondents feel like they need much more sleep than they’re currently getting. Fewer adults (54%) over the age of 55 say they need more sleep when compared to adults between the ages of 18 and 24 (67%).

According to the CDC, folks between the ages of 19 to 60 should get at least seven hours of sleep each night, adults between the ages of 61 to 64 should get seven to nine hours, and anyone over the age of 65 should get between seven and eight hours. (2)

Our findings indicate that only 2% of adults sleep more than nine hours each night, and 51% of adults sleep less than seven hours.

What’s Stopping Americans from Getting Enough Sleep?

Common Stressors

What exactly is stress and how can it keep you up? Stress is how your brain and body react to challenges, such as something traumatic or work performance. (3) When you experience stress, your anxiety increases, which arouses your body and wakes you up. (4)

People under a lot of stress tend to have disruptive sleep, sleep less, and are more likely to have sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. (5) When we sleep less, we tend to have higher levels of stress. This creates a frustrating cycle of sleeplessness and stress. (6)

We found the most common obstacles that are keeping Americans awake include:

  • Stress about work or personal life – 66%
  • COVID-19 – 49%
  • Aches and pains – 38%
  • Noise, including a snoring family member – 26%
  • Politics and News – 22%

Stress about work or personal life is more common in women (69%) than men (62%).

Our survey results indicate that younger people experience more stress. Only 57% of respondents 55 and older say stress affects their sleep compared to 76% of respondents 24 and younger.

We also found that 55% of men tend to have more difficulty sleeping due to the stress of COVID-19 compared to 45% of women.


Dreams and Nightmares

Most folks (69%) younger than 55 report having multiple stress-related dreams each week. In comparison, only 54% of those 55 and older report having more than one stress-related dream per week.

The majority of respondents (61%) report recurring nightmares. The most common nightmares include:

  • Falling – 60%
  • Dying – 52%
  • Being chased – 46%
  • Running late for something – 33%
  • Being attacked – 32%
  • Lost/trapped somewhere – 32%
  • Someone you love is dying – 32%
  • Waking up late – 30%
  • Partner leaving you – 23%
  • Teeth falling out – 23%

It’s worth noting that 65% of respondents under the age of 25 report dying as a nightmare compared to only 30% of respondents 65 and older. We also found women are more likely than men to have a recurring dream or nightmare (64% and 58%, respectively).

Sleep Environment

Creating an environment that is conducive to sleep is especially important if you have high levels of stress. This begins with sleeping on a quality, comfortable mattress.

Many respondents (22%) report sleeping on a poor-quality mattress as a reason for their lack of sleep. An older mattress may be partly to blame, since 33% of respondents report sleeping on the same mattress for the past four years.

Noise can also disrupt a peaceful sleep environment. Our results show a family member’s snoring is a major obstacle to sleep, with 29% of women and 20% of men reporting this as a problem.

Our research shows that popular choices for creating a serene sleep environment include:

  • Listening to music – 54%
  • Meditation – 38%
  • Reading – 37%
  • Over-the-counter sleep aid – 35%
  • White noise machine – 31%


What is the Impact of COVID-19?

We found the additional stress folks are facing with COVID-19 is contributing to sleep difficulties. The anxiety caused by the pandemic has made sleeping difficult for most folks.

For instance, 60% of respondents report having more trouble sleeping in the past year compared to pre-pandemic years. In addition, 52% report having nightmares that involve dying in 2020, as opposed to only 24% in 2019.

The most common ways COVID-19 impacted respondents sleep since March 2020 include:

  • Trouble falling asleep – 26%
  • Nightmares – 19.64%
  • Both trouble falling asleep and nightmares – 24%


Final Thoughts

If stress is keeping you awake at night, you’re not alone. Our findings indicate that 40% of Americans can’t remember the last time they got a good night’s sleep. And once they are asleep, respondents report waking up an average of seven times during the week. Stress is a major contributing factor to these numbers.

But stress doesn’t have to spell the end of quality sleep. Mattress Advisor has the tools and resources you need to help you improve your quality of sleep. To get started, take a look at some of our resources below.