Some scientists say sleeping six hours or less is too little. Others say that sleeping eight hours or more is too much. Yet others say that the amount of time people spend depends on their individual activity during the day or, perhaps, their age. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) set out to see how many hours Americans actually sleep.
In its American Time Use Survey Summary, the BLS measured the use of time roughly during the second half of last year, from May 10 through December 31. It made comparisons to the same period in 2019. It chose this period because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on when data could be gathered from individuals. As might be expected, how people spend their time relied a great deal on when the pandemic was at its worst, compared to when the numbers of cases and deaths were lower.
The American Time Use Survey set out to measure how much time in the day people “worked, engaged in leisure and sports activities, provided childcare, traveled, and more. Estimates about where and with whom Americans spent their time also are provided.”
The time people spent working dropped by 17 minutes between the two periods. This could be because they were able to telework and did not have to commute. Among the largest changes was time spent on leisure and sports activities. This rose by 32 minutes to 5.5 hours a day. Among the things included in this category, watching TV was up 19 minutes a day to 3.1 hours.
The activity in which the largest percentage of Americans spent time was sleeping. Of those surveyed, 99% said that slept every day. In the 2019 period, people spent 8.84 hours sleeping. This rose to 9.01 hours in the 2020 period. That means they spent about three times as many hours asleep as they did watching TV.