A look at Philips World Sleep Day 2019 survey results
Every year in honor of World Sleep Day, Philips conducts a survey to capture the attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors around sleep throughout the world. This year, after looking at over 11,000 responses from 12 countries, we found that the majority – more than 80 percent – want to sleep better. Survey results also showed that the majority of respondents are reluctant to approach a physician about their sleep problem, which presents us with a paradox around sleep health.
As a global society, we know that sleep is important to us. According to this year’s survey respondents, compared to diet and exercise, sleep is perceived to have more of an impact on one’s overall health. What’s alarming is that only 10 percent of people report sleeping extremely well, while 62 percent report sleeping poorly. In terms of total sleep time, respondents reported an average of 6.8 hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.8 hours of sleep on weekends. This increase in sleep on the weekends is a sign that we are capable of making proactive choices about sleep – but the key question remains: what’s stopping us from making these changes during the week?
The survey shows that 59 percent of respondents have inconsistent bedtime routines. We know that part of this inconsistency stems from personal choices, like distractions from entertainment for example. However, not all sleep problems are the result of personal choice – many are outside of our control. According to this year’s survey, 76 percent of people complained of one or more specific sleep problems, with insomnia and snoring being the most common. The side effects of these problems have impacted 60 percent of respondents’ daily lives. Many reported experiencing daytime sleepiness, which can limit both self-care and social connectedness, and potentially result in downstream effects on happiness and enjoyment.
All of this paints a somewhat dire picture of global sleep health. But why aren’t people seeking more validated solutions? As a sleep expert, I’m struck by this.
Unfortunately, this year we learned that respondents are rarely willing to see their doctor about their sleep problems. They mention the cost of care as a factor, but this could also reflect a lack of confidence in the healthcare system to provide easy options that lead to meaningful results. Instead, respondents report seeking out support or advice on the internet. This opens them up to the multitude of promises of a better night’s sleep out in the marketplace, but unfortunately many lack strong clinical science to back these claims.
If we want to address the social and emotional aspects of poor sleep that we see in our global society today, we must start to take sleep seriously. As a society, we’re seeing evidence that, year over year, people are beginning to recognize the impact sleep has on their lives and health more and more. This is uplifting news. The next step is educating and enabling those individuals as to how they can address sleep issues they are experiencing to take an active step toward change. As a clinician, this means that we need to demonstrate that we can address sleep problems in both easy and meaningful ways that are supported by strong clinical science and congregate them into a trusted source for those seeking support. At Philips, we’re already making excellent headway in this area and when we and our industry colleagues are able to do this, then the world will be able to lead much healthier – and more restful – lives.
Mark Aloia is Global Lead for Behavior Change with Philips and Associate Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver, CO. He has also been on the faculty at the University of Rochester and at Brown University as a prominent health researcher.