Americans Kept Awake by Finances

A recent study found that many Americans, particularly in some ethnic groups, are kept awake by problems such as financial concerns.

In the past, studies have shown that Americans don’t get enough sleep—and are losing more sleep due to economic woes (“Sleep Deficit on the Rise”). The latest survey, conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), found some ethnic groups are losing more sleep than others.

Hispanics are the most likely to say they are kept awake by financial, employment, personal relationship, and/or health-related concerns, the survey found. Overall, at least one-third of Hispanics (38%) and blacks (33%) reported that any of those concerns disturb their sleep at least a few nights a week, compared to about one-fourth of whites (28%) and/or Asians (25%). About two in 10 Hispanics and blacks (19% each) said their sleep is disturbed every night or almost every night by at least one of those concerns. 

While Hispanics showed more concern over health-related concerns, blacks seemed the most concerned about personal finance, according to the survey. Black respondents reported losing sleep every night over personal financial concerns (12%) and employment concerns (10%) at a higher rate than whites (6% and 7%) and Asians (1% and 4%). Hispanics were almost equally concerned each night about those two issues (11% and 9%, respectively). Hispanics (16%) were more likely than blacks (12%), Asians (9%), and whites (7%) to report that health-related concerns have disturbed their sleep at least a few nights a week.

Missing sleep makes a difference in the lives of Americans. Almost a fourth of all surveyed groups said they have missed work or family functions because they were too sleepy. 

Lack of sleep can also take a toll on Americans’ love lives: Among married people or couples living together, about a fourth of all ethnic groups reported frequently being too tired for sex. Blacks and Hispanics (10% each) were 10 times more likely to report having sex every night when compared with Asians (1%) and 2.5 times more likely than whites (4%).

Among those employed, blacks (17%) and Asians (16%) were more likely than whites (9%) and Hispanics (13%) to report doing job-related work in the hour before bed. Asians are more than twice as likely to use the Internet every night in comparison to any other group (51% versus 22% of whites, 20% of blacks, 20% of Hispanics). They were also the least likely to watch TV an hour before sleep (52%, versus 64% of whites, 72% of Hispanics, and 75% of blacks).

Asians were the most likely ethnic group (84%) to say that they had a good night’s sleep at least a few nights or more a week. They were also the least likely (9%) to report that they “rarely” or “never” have a good night’s sleep, compared with 20% of whites, 18% of blacks, and 14% of Hispanics.

While blacks reported the least amount of sleep (6 hours and 14 minutes), they also said they need less sleep (7 hours and 5 minutes). Asians and Hispanics said they need 7 hours and 29 minutes. Black respondents said they sleep an average of 34 minutes less on a work night/weeknight than Asians and 38 minutes less than whites.

The 2010 Sleep in America annual poll was conducted for the National Sleep Foundation by WB&A Market Research, using a random sample of 1,007 adults who self-identified their ethnic group and were between the ages of 25 to 60.