The National Sleep Foundation is one of the most respected authorities on sleep, especially here in the U.S. For ten years they have been running the annual Sleep in America poll in an effort to help experts in the field and everyday people understand the vital role sleep plays in living a happy and healthy life. One objective of each annual poll is to collect data about the sleep patterns and habits of everyday people. Although each year’s poll is centered on a single theme like Technology and Sleep or Women and Sleep, baseline data from a control group is at the core of each poll. This has provided the NSF with 10 years of solid data on who sleeps when, why we don’t sleep, how much sleep we get, and what kind of sleepers we are.
After analyzing this data, the NSF has identified five different types of sleepers or “sleep personality types” that are common across ages, incomes, genders, etc. Which are you and are you ok with the one that most resembles your life?
Here are the five sleep personalities the NSF identified.
Healthy, Lively Larks
These are the people that most people wish they were when it comes to sleep. They:
- Get a good night sleep almost every night
- Never have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Don’t suffer from any sleep debt, don’t experience excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Consider themselves to be morning people and are generally in good health
The majority of Larks are married and employed full time. The people who fit into this group are generally younger as a group than the other personality types.
Sleep Savvy Seniors
This group is made up of the seniors who have figured out how to maintain a healthy relationship with sleep as they moved through adulthood. They:
- Have an average age of 60
- Get more sleep on any given night than the other groups, averaging 7.3 hours/night
- Have the lowest risk of any group for developing a sleep disorder
- Rarely feel overtired or fatigued
The majority of people in this group are retired women who are no longer working and who take advantage of their flexible schedule to nap during the day.
About half of Americans fall into those first two categories. This is very telling since the other half of Americans fall into the remaining three categories, which are less positive overall and definitely impacting the health of that half of the population.
This group is primarily made up of people who are getting up early, working hard, and never really getting enough sleep. They:
- Are more likely to have a partner than the other groups
- Are more likely to be employed and working in excess of 40 hours a week
- Are early risers which makes it twice as likely that they will not get as much sleep as they need
- Are experiencing problems in their relationship because of sleep
Almost a third of those in this group are experiencing daytime sleepiness and excessive fatigue as many as three times a week.
Overworked, Overweight, and Over-caffeinated
This group of people routinely identifies themselves as “night owls” and are the least likely to work what most people would consider a normal schedule. They:
- Work more than any other group and drink more caffeine than any other group
- Don’t get as much sleep as the other groups but tend to take more naps
- Believe they don’t need as much sleep as other people to function optimally and think they are getting at least as much sleep as they need, if not more
- Are very likely experiencing symptoms of insomnia
The majority of the people in this group are male and about half of those in this group qualify as obese.
Sleepless and Missin the Kissin
This group has the highest percentage of people who describe themselves as night owls and know they have some issues with sleep. They:
- Are likely to believe that they have some kind of sleep problem or disorder
- Don’t feel like they get a good night sleep very often and report feeling tired and fatigued
- Have likely been diagnosed with a medical condition
- Feel that sleep and sleepiness has impacted their relationship
There are more women than men in this group and these people are more likely to use sleep aids than any other group.
If you see more of yourself in one of the less desirable groups than you would like to, take heart. It is possible to change your sleep personality by making changes to your lifestyle and committing to making sleep the priority it needs to be in order to safeguard your health.
- 5 Sleep Pattern Clusters: Which One Are You? (valleysleepcenter.com)
- What’s Your Magic Sleep Number? (valleysleepcenter.com)
- Build a Better Sleep Environment (valleysleepcenter.com)