Depending on the source, when scientists look at how people spend their time per day by the hour, things like watching TV and working and commuting sit at the top of the pile. However, it is very rare that the number one activity is sleeping, whether that be for nine hours, eight or seven. While some people say they can get by on much less than that, if true, it is rare.
Sleeping habits vary considerably across the country. To determine the states where residents report getting the most and least sleep, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the share of adults in every state who report sleeping less than seven hours per night on a regular basis. These figures were obtained from the 2021 report by the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR), a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program.
Lack of sleep has been shown to be a contributing factor to obesity. Sleep deprivation messes with the two hormones that control appetite. Lack of sleep leads to increased levels of ghrelin, which signals hunger, and decreased levels of leptin, which signals being full. Of the 15 states where residents are most likely to get insufficient sleep, only two have an obesity rate among residents 18 and over that is lower than the national rate of 29.7%.
Low income levels appear to increase the likelihood of a population not getting enough sleep. This likely is caused by residents working longer hours at lower-paying jobs and the higher level of stress from financial insecurity. Nationwide, 12.3% of residents live below the poverty line. The poverty rate is higher in all but four of the 15 states where residents are most likely to get insufficient sleep.
Data on the share of adults in each state reporting frequent mental distress and the share of adults who report fair or poor health also came from the 2021 CHR report. So did the obesity rates, or the share of residents 18 and over who report a body mass index of 30 or greater.
The share of adults with high blood pressure was compiled by the United Health Foundation using 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the latest year for which data is available, from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
The poverty rate and median household income came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and are one-year estimates.
The 24/7 Tempo analysis found that Hawaii is the state where people get the least sleep. Here are the details:
- Adults reporting insufficient sleep: 43.2%
- Average mentally unhealthy days: 3.4 a month (U.S. average: 4.1)
- Adults with high blood pressure: 30.6% (16th lowest)
- Residents 18+ who are obese: 24.6% (18th lowest)
- Adults 20+ with diabetes: 11.1% (17th highest)
- Residents 18+ who report poor or fair health: 15.4% (18th lowest)
- Poverty rate: 9.3% (sixth lowest)
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