Oh sleep. It can be as elusive as finding a unicorn. If you're like me, and millions of other people, thoughts racing through your mind are keeping you up at night. But, what are we thinking about during our sleepless nights? Weird things that keep people up at night, according to a survey from Sleep Junkie, include everything from a guilty conscious, to politics and everything in between.
Doctors recommend that you get seven-to-nine hours of sleep each night, however almost 40 percent of those surveyed reported only getting between five and six hours of sleep. Guilty as charged. And, 3 percent admitted to getting four hours or less (I am so jealous of these short sleepers).
The survey asked questions like whether or not you’ve cheated on your partner, stolen from your family, called someone a nasty name, or told a massive lie, and whether or not that keeps you up at night, leaves you tired in the morning, or give you nightmares.
Across the board, sleep is not something most of us are doing very well. On a scale of A-F (like a report card), the majority of those surveyed rated their sleep quality a C. While most people said they fell asleep easily (I am not one of these people), and rarely experienced nightmares, overall sleep quality was not stellar. So, what's keeping people up at night?
According to the survey, women were more likely than men to be kept awake by guilt; 72 percent of women reported losing sleep because of guilty conscious while only 61 percent of men did.
Women may be more inclined to lose sleep over their conscience because, according to experts, they tend to be more empathetic than men, the survey suggests. I know for me, if I have done something wrong, or even if I think someone may have interpreted something I did as wrong, I will not sleep at all.
Cheating on your partner did not have as big of an effect on sleep quality as the survey anticipated, but it did have some. Perhaps people are tired after all of that sneaking around.
Around 34 percent of those who were faithful to their partners slept well while 31 percent of cheaters reported sleeping well. Only 25 percent of cheaters ranked their sleep quality a D or an F.
Everyone has had at least one nightmare in their lives. Nightmares can cause poor sleep quality, more frequent nighttime waking, and increased insomnia, because who wants to go back to sleep after having a bad dream?
According to the Sleep Junkie survey, those who take longer to fall asleep (perfect, that's me) are at a greater risk for nightmares. Almost 20 percent of people who reported taking a long time to fall asleep also reported more frequent nightmares than those who fell asleep in less than 30 minutes.
So, does your political affiliation really have an impact on your sleep? It might. The survey indicated that Green Party members were getting the most sleep, followed by Republicans, Democrats (makes sense since we're lying awake all night wondering what Trump will do next), then Libertarians (perhaps they feel bad for throwing the election by voting for Gary Johnson).
5. Being A Good Person
This one was a surprise. It turns out that people who do things like give money to the homeless, and are supportive, and inclusive, of marginalized communities slept pretty much the same as people who admitted to being racist, homophobic, or classist.
Perhaps it's because both of these groups feel they are right. In my opinion the first group should be sleeping better, you know, because they're better people.
6. Your Relationship With Your Parents
Well, it turns out that your parents' love and support really does make a difference. Almost 40 percent of those who participated in the survey reported having a good relationship with their parents. This same group rated their sleep quality the highest.
I suppose knowing you are unconditionally loved and supported makes it easier to get your necessary sack time. If your relationship with your parents is not great, you (like me) are probably pretty tired. Existentially, and otherwise.
I have personally had jobs that kept me up worrying all night, and it's not a good feeling. Surprisingly, people in the finance and insurance, and marketing and advertising industries slept the best. When I was in marketing I hardly ever slept.
Additionally, those who reported being in more financially stable careers also slept better. Scientists, unemployed and retired people, and those in the entertainment industry reported having the worst sleep quality.
So Now What?
There are a lot of things you can do to improve your sleep, including giving yourself a screen time curfew (the light from phone and computers keeps you awake), regular exercise, meditation, white noise machines, reducing caffeine intake, and proper diet.
And, believe me, I know getting enough sleep is hard. There are no magic beans when it comes to sleeping, but stacking the odds in your favor as much as possible can set you up for success.