Study finds Americans get the least amount of sleep at age 40

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A U-shaped association was found with duration of sleep and age in a recent study, with the graph’s low point, the age when Americans got the least sleep, dipping at 40 years old.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, was led by Shaoyong Su, BS, PhD, a genetic epidemiologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute. For their study, Su and his team of researchers aimed to measure sleep parameters in a national representative sample of the United States population and find out if there was an association between sleep and sex, race, and age.

The investigation involved 11,279 participants six years of age or older who had completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2011 to 2014. In addition, each participant underwent a seven-day 24-hour accelerometer recording to collect data on their sleep parameters.

The study’s results showed a U-shaped correlation between sleep and age. As the participant’s age increased from six years old, their amount of sleep decreased, reaching its lowest point at age 40. Around the age of 50, the amount of sleep gradually increased as people aged. Researchers also found that females tended to sleep longer than males throughout their lives.

The study also showed that males and females had a similar number of sleep disturbances during the night, making them equally sleep efficient. Finally, researchers found that compared to other racial groups, non-Hispanic Black Americans generally went to sleep later, slept fewer hours, and had more sleep disturbances.

This study suggests that sleep parameters are associated with age, race, and sex. Using these results, researchers said they hope practitioners can better personalize advice for improving sleep hygiene in their patients.

“I think what these sleep parameters mean in terms of people’s health is that if you are a physician or other provider and patients comes in with some kind of complaint about their sleep, you need to interpret what they tell you in light of their stage in life and what their likely sleep patterns are going to be,” said study researcher Vaughn McCall, MD, department chair professor at Augusta University in Augusta, Ga.