We all know that sleep is important, but how many of us are getting enough sleep? Our lives are so busy with work, leisure activities and socializing that often we cut our sleep short to squeeze in a few more activities.

However, we shouldn’t. Researchers have linked lack of sleep to both short- and long-term health consequences. How much sleep we get affects our cognitive performance, mood, and physiological processes. Lack of sleep can also increase the risk of several health conditions.

So how does lack of sleep affect us and are Canadians getting enough sleep? Read on to find out about the sleep statistics in Canada.

Sleep Statistics for Canadians

  • An adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
  • A survey from 2020 shows Canadians sleep on average 7.9 hours per night.
  • People aged 35-64 are most likely to not get enough sleep.
  • 61% of Canadians say the quality of their sleep is good.
  • 21% of car accidents are caused by lack of sleep.
  • Sleeping less than 6 hours per night regularly increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 48%.
  • 30% of Canadians have insomnia and 2.2% from obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Lack of sleep is linked with chronic stress, with 36.3% of people sleeping less than the recommendation reporting feeling chronically depressed.
  • Investing in a new mattress can improve the quality of your sleep by up to 55%.
  • Just two servings of alcohol close to bedtime can decrease sleep quality by 39.2%.

How much sleep do we need?

The amount of sleep you need depends on your age with younger people needed more sleep than adults. The recommendation for adults between 18 and 64 is seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Adults over 65 can get by with 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Newborns need the most sleep: up to 17 hours per day until three months old. The need for sleep decreases as children grow. However, preschool-aged children (3-5 years old) should still get 10-13 hours of sleep and school-aged children 9-11 hours of sleep. Teenagers need between 8-10 hours to get the best benefits from sleep.

How much sleep do people in Canada get on average?

In the latest study on sleep from 2020, Canadians were reporting longer sleep durations than in the previous study from 2014 to 2015. In the earlier study, the participants reported they slept 7.1 per night on average. By the 2020 survey, the average was up to 7.9 hours per night. The results were similar to the 2005 study, which found that Canadian adults slept 8.2 hours per average.

The duration of sleep was lowest in the 35-49 age group. This could be because of increased work and family demands. Women are more likely to sleep longer than men with 8.1 hours per night compared to 7.8 hours for men. People from higher income families and those with higher education were more likely to meet the recommended sleep hours. Employed people get less sleep than those who are unemployed.

What portion of people are not getting enough sleep?

One in three people aged 35-64 report they sleep less than the recommended hours. In the 18-34 and over 65 groups, one in four said they are not getting enough sleep.

There is a clear link between the quality of sleep and people reporting they get enough sleep. The Statistics Canada study on sleep from 2020 showed that 78% of people who said they sleep well met sleep duration recommendations compared to 65% of those who said the quality of their sleep is poor.

Compared to other countries, Canada and the United States share the place for the third most sleep-deprive country with around 30% of the population reporting lack of sleep. The UK and Ireland are worse with 37% and 34%.

How many people report they get good quality sleep?

The quality of sleep can be measured using the ability to fall asleep and to stay asleep together with the duration of sleep.

Overall, two-thirds of people who took part in the Statistics Canada sleep survey reported they get good quality of sleep. Older adults and men were more likely to say they sleep well compared to younger adults and women.

The number of people saying they sleep well was higher in 2020 compared to the 2007-2013 period from a previous study. In the earlier study, 51% of adults said they regularly got good quality sleep compared to 61% on the 2020 study. The percentage of seniors grading their sleep as good ”always” or ”most of the time” was higher at 79%,

Lack of sleep is behind 21% of car accidents

According to sleep statistics, up to 20% of Canadians have fallen asleep while driving a car. Feeling sleepy behind the wheel, or actually falling a sleep, causes around 21% of road accidents. People who slept less than six hours were most likely to fall asleep when driving.

The risk of having a car accident increases with each hour of lost sleep. People who had slept six hours had a 1.3 times higher risk of causing a car accident, whereas those who had slept less than four hours of sleep had a 15.1 times higher risk.

Accidents caused by tiredness or falling asleep behind the wheel account for 400 fatalities per year and around 2,100 serious injuries.

Long term lack of sleep is linked to cardiovascular issues

Not getting enough sleep is as damaging as not getting enough exercise or eating an unhealthy diet. There is a direct relation between poor sleep and cardiovascular diseases.

People who sleep less than 6 hours per night regularly have a 48% higher chance of coronary heart disease. They also have an increased risk of stroke with people not sleeping the recommended hours 15% more likely to have a stroke.

However, sleeping too much is damaging to the cardiovascular system, too. People who oversleep are 38% more likely to develop a coronary heart disease. Their risk of stroke is 65% higher.

How else does lack of sleep impact your health?

There are several health benefits from getting enough sleep. These include:

  • Not sleeping enough impairs the immune system. For example, those who slept less than five hours per night were 4.5 times more likely to develop a cold.
  • Studies have shown that lack of sleep activates inflammatory signalling pathways, which over time can cause the development of chronic conditions such as heart disease, certain types of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Getting enough sleep can maximize your ability to solve problems and improve your memory. Lack of sleep has been shown to impair brain function and decision-making skills.
  • Sleep affects sugar metabolism and may reduce the risk of diabetes. Those who sleep less than five hours have a 48% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Getting enough sleep may help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. A study from 2020 showed that adults had 41% higher risk of developing obesity if they slept less than 7 hours per night.
  • You can improve your athletic performance by getting enough sleep. Having enough rest is shown to enhance motor skills, muscular power and endurance, and reaction times. Not getting enough sleep may lower the motivation to exercise and increase the risk of injuries.

How many Canadians are affected by insomnia?

According to a new report by CBC News, about 30% of Canadians have insomnia. It is one of the most common sleep disorders among adults and the number of people reporting they have insomnia increased by 42% between 2007 and 2015.

Women who are on lower incomes and received less education are most likely to suffer from inability to sleep, while children and teenagers are less likely to have insomnia than adults.

Sleep medication and medical marijuana are often used to treat insomnia. However, 80% of people using either of them for their insomnia report they have side-effects including trouble focusing or waking up in the morning.

People who have insomnia are more likely to have accidents at the work place

Insomnia has been linked to increased accidents at work compared to those who get the recommended amount of sleep. On average, people who have insomnia are seven times more likely to have an accident at work due to fatigue and lack of focus.

For example, the probability of making an error among nurses working over 12.5 hours is three times higher than among those working 8.5 hour shifts.

How many Canadians are affected by sleep apnea?

Around 858,900 adults in Canada have sleep apnea, which is a sleep related breathing disorder. Three quarters of people reporting sleep apnea were over 45 years old. In addition to those being diagnosed with sleep apnea, over a quarter of Canadian adults report symptoms that are associated with developing obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea increases the risk of certain illnesses. For example, those who suffer from it are 2.5 times more like to have diabetes and 2.2 times more likely to have heart disease.

Who is most likely to develop sleep apnea?

Men and people older than 50 are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include snoring loud enough to be heard through closed doors, regularly feeling sleepy during daytime, and stopping breathing for short periods during sleep. Risk factors include high blood pressure and having a body mass index greater than 35 kg/m2.

Lack of sleep can lead to feeling chronically stressed

People who are not getting the recommended hours of sleep are more likely to feel chronically stressed. 36.3% of people who regularly sleep less than the recommended amount report they are chronically stressed. Parents, and especially mothers, are most at risk of feeling chronically stressed because the risk of not getting enough sleep increases by around 46% with every child.

Less than a quarter of adults who get adequate sleep report they feel chronically stressed.

If you are having trouble sleeping, it might be worth investing in a better mattress

According to the Sleep Foundation, replacing your old mattress can improve the quality of your sleep by up to 55%. It can also lower the occurrence of back pain by 48% and reduce allergies and asthma.

You should consider getting a new mattress if you sleep better in other beds, e.g. at hotels or friends’ houses, you notice an increase in allergies or asthma; the mattress is saggy or damaged, or you often wake up with muscle or joint stiffness.

Miscellaneous statistics

  • 61% of Canadians have cancelled plans so they can catch up on sleep.
  • 71% of under 34-year-olds use computers and phones right before going to sleep.
  • 40% of people report falling asleep in a public place and 22% have fallen asleep on public transport.
  • 15% of people say they sleep better in a good hotel than at home.
  • Being severely sleep-deprived can be compared to consuming excess alcohol. For example, staying awake for eighteen hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%. The BAC increases to 1% after 24 hours of no sleep.

Conclusion

Getting enough sleep is vital for our health. If you notice that you are not getting enough good quality sleep, you can try these methods to improve your sleep.

  • Stick to a sensible bedtime every night, including the weekends.
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment.
  • Do not use electronic devices right before going to bed.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Two servings of alcohol can decrease sleep quality by 39.2%.
  • Be physically active during the day.

Try using relaxation and meditation to unwind before bedtime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canadians on average get 7.9 hours of sleep every night.

About 30% of Canadians have insomnia. It is one of the most common sleep disorders among adults and the number of people reporting they have insomnia increased by 42% between 2007 and 2015.

61% of Canadians say the quality of their sleep is good.

Around 858,900 adults in Canada have sleep apnea, which is a sleep related breathing disorder.

An adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Sleeping less than 6 hours per night regularly increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 48%.

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