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Mar 16, 2017

Prioritizing Sleep: Why is sleep not on top of the world’s to-do list?

Estimated reading time: 3-5 minutes

Today is World Sleep Day and this year’s theme, “Sleep Soundly, Nurture Life,” could not be more apt.

As we look at health and wellness, we must think about it as having four essential pillars, including proper nutrition, exercise, positive mental health and sleep. 


Sleep is, nonetheless, unique in that one single bad night of sleep can give rise to negative consequences, immediately impacting our performance, safety and sense of wellbeing.


This morning, Philips released its report, “Unfiltered Sleep: A Global Prioritization Puzzle,” which showcases data from a global survey conducted on their behalf by Harris Poll. This online survey examined how more than 6,000 adults in five countries – the U.S., France, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands – perceive, prioritize and prepare for sleep as well as how sleep is balanced against a person’s daily work responsibilities, family and relationships, and hobbies.

The survey reveals that 92 percent of adults internationally view sleep as a crucial component to their overall health and wellbeing. Indeed, most adults – close to three-quarters globally (74 percent) and 9 in 10 U.S. adults (91 percent) – look forward to sleep.

While it is generally agreed that sleep is vital to health and wellbeing, actually getting sufficient and quality sleep is easier said than done for many of us. 

sleep stats

All It Takes is One Bad Night’s Rest

People generally acknowledge the biological importance of sleep, as well as the detrimental effects on health and quality of life stemming from chronic lack of sleep. Many also appreciate the societal costs of poor quality sleep or inadequate sleep. It is just that, for many, sleep is simply not a priority in their lives – this was a sentiment shared by nearly 3 in 10 (28 percent) adults in this survey. 

Eighty four percent of adults globally prioritize some other activity – such as spending time with family (41 percent), significant others (35 percent), or friends (23 percent), watching TV or movies (34 percent), or spending time on the Internet (25 percent) – over going to bed and sleeping. 

Nearly half of adults globally (47 percent) admit that screen time (including watching TV, reading on an electronic device, checking email, looking at social media or browsing the web) is the very last thing they do before going to sleep – a practice that can disrupt sleep.


Other important insights from the survey include:

  • Ninety-five percent of adults globally say they have experienced a bad night’s sleep and more than 8 in 10 (82 percent) experience negative effects following just one night of sleeping poorly.
  • Prevalence of experiencing negative impacts after having a bad night’s rest is highest among adults in France (87 percent) and Japan (86 percent).
  • Among adults globally, the top three negative consequences related to sleeping poorly are looking tired (40 percent), being less productive (37 percent) and feeling unmotivated (35 percent).
  • About one in five adults in the U.S. (22 percent) and Germany (20 percent) admit to consuming more caffeine than usual to make up for a bad night’s sleep.
  • Japanese adults are more likely to experience physical pain from their lack of sleep (34 percent) and are more likely to cut their exercise routine (27 percent) than those in other countries. 


Achieving Sleep Quality 

Many seek solutions to improving their sleep. More than 7 in 10 adults globally (73 percent) have taken steps to ensure a good night’s sleep – reading a book (29 percent), using natural sleep aids (17 percent) or purchasing specialized pillows or bedding (15 percent). Additionally: 

  • American adults (79 percent) are most likely to take action. They are also more likely to say they’ve tried reading a book (29 percent), taking over the counter sleeping pills (24 percent) and leaving the TV on to fall asleep (23 percent).
  • Germans (72 percent) are most likely to say they adhere to a specific sleep schedule.
  • The French are most likely to say they invested in specialized bedding (20 percent).
  • Both French adults (36 percent) and Japanese adults (39 percent) are the most likely to say they value looking good while they sleep.
  • Nearly one in four Japanese adults (24 percent) say they use alcohol as a sleep aid to help guarantee a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, using alcohol to help with sleep can give rise to unwanted disruptions to sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation
  • Nearly 7 in 10 adults globally (68 percent), as well as close to 8 in 10 Japanese adults (77 percent), believe that getting more sleep each night would improve their quality of life. 

About Innovation Matters

Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization. From interviews with industry giants to how-to guides and features powered by Philips data, our goal is to deliver interesting, educational and entertaining content to empower and inspire all those who work in healthcare or related industries.


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Teofilo Lee Chiong

Dr. Teofilo L. Lee-Chiong Jr., MD

Professor of Medicine and Chief Medical Liaison for Philips Respironics
Teofilo L. Lee-Chiong Jr., MD is a Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver and at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

He has authored or edited 16 textbooks in Sleep Medicine and Pulmonary Medicine, has more than 150 publications, has given more than 300 presentations in the United States and internationally, and has participated in more than 30 research projects. He joined Philips Respironics as its Chief Medical Liaison in 2011.
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