Do you ever look at the people driving the car next to yours and wonder "what kind of sleeper is she?" Or scan a movie theater before the lights dim and ask yourself "what time did that man go to bed last night"? Probably not. What if by knowing just a little about the sleep habits of the people around you, you could determine even more.
Using data derived from the answers to poll questions, NSF found five clusters or "sleep personality" types. The commonalities are based on sleep habits and more than 40 other factors including age, marital status, gender, employment status, diagnosed medical conditions, how often they feel tired/fatigued/not up to par, and the amount of caffeinated beverages consumed daily.
You may be able to identify with one of these groups more than the other four. The segment profiles for the 2005 Sleep in America poll finds two groups of "good sleepers" comprising a little less than half of those polled; they are called Healthy, Lively Larks and Sleep Savvy Seniors. Three groups comprising 52% of the respondents have sleep characteristics that are not positive; they are Dragging Duos, Overworked, Overweight and Over caffeinated and finally, Sleepless and Missin' the Kissin'.
Healthy, Lively Larks
You are the model citizen of sleep. As a Healthy, Lively Lark, you are someone who is not likely to be affected by sleep problems. You almost always get the sleep you need and you almost never feel tired or fatigued. You are younger than the other groups, often married or partnered and working full time. You consider yourself a morning person who is not diagnosed with a medical condition.
Sleep Savvy Seniors
You are the most mature of the five groups (average age 60), about half are 65 or older. As a sleep savvy senior, you get the most sleep of any group, averaging 7.3 hours/night compared to 6.8 overall. You can say you get a good night’s sleep on most nights, often take two or more naps during the week, and never/rarely feel tired/fatigued. Although many Sleep Savvy Seniors have been diagnosed with at least one medical condition, you do not feel you have a sleep problem, and you are less likely than other groups to be at risk for any sleep disorder. People in this group are the most likely to be retired (51%) and, least likely to be employed (30%); two-thirds are female.
More than the other groups, the Dragging Duos are most likely to be partnered and employed, working more than 40 hours a week, and often doing job-related work within an hour of going to bed. As an early riser, you are nearly twice as likely as the other groups to get less sleep than you need to function at your best. More than one-third of Dragging Duos say they feel tired/fatigued at least three days each week. Duos often report that their partner has at least one symptom of insomnia. Sleep disorders have caused some problems in your relationship, including your intimate relationship, which has been affected because of sleepiness.
Overworked, Overweight and Over caffeinated
As an evening person or "owl" who is employed, you have the longest work week of all the groups, and you are least likely to work regular day shifts. You sleep less than other groups but nap more, with two-thirds taking two or more naps each week. You feel like you need fewer hours of sleep each night to function at your best compared to the other groups and you believe you get as much or more sleep than you need. Members of this group drink more caffeine than other groups. Seven in 10 frequently experience a symptom of insomnia. Your group has a higher representation of males, about one-half of the group isn’t partnered and the same amount would be classified as "obese."
Sleepless and Missin’ the Kissin’
Your group has the largest proportion of "owls" and people who think they have a sleep problem or a symptom of insomnia. You are the least likely to say you frequently get a good night's sleep. Nearly one-half of your group feels they are getting less sleep than they need, and the same number says they usually feel tired/fatigued. You are more likely than other groups to say you (or your partner's) sleep disorders have caused significant or moderate problems with your relationship, and 2 out of 5 say intimate relationships have been affected because of sleepiness. The majority of SAMTK's has been diagnosed with a medical condition and you are more likely than other groups to use sleep aids. One-half of this group is employed, and there is a high representation of females.
What Can You Do to Close in on the Divide?
If you are reading this article and thinking, "I don’t want to be Sleepless and Missin' the Kissin'" or "Overworked, Overweight and Over caffeinated", you can get on the other side of the Great American Sleep Divide by deciding that you don’t want to let sleeplessness rule the rest of your life. Your sleep classification may be as open to change as adopting an exercise routine or a healthier diet. Some aspects may be harder to change, some may take assistance and others require help from a partner. The important thing is to size up your sleep situation and how it might be affecting key aspects of your life such as your health, your relationships, your productivity and success at work, even your ability to stay alert when driving a car.