Why is everyone so tired all the time? One sleep survey shows it's not always about how early you go to bed.

By Maggie Seaver
Updated May 20, 2019

It isn’t crazy to wonder how different life would be if we all got just a little bit more sleep. For a lot of people, a solid night of sleep—we’re talking about 8 hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep—feels like a rare thing to come by. There’s always one more email to answer, one more episode to watch, or one more chapter to finish before hitting the sheets. Beyond that, even if you do your best to get in bed early, sleep isn’t always guaranteed to come instantaneously, no matter how much camomile tea you drink beforehand. And it can definitely take a toll.

If it’s any consolation, it seems like most people struggle in some way or another to catch enough Z’s. A survey by Well+Good polled 1,500 people, revealing nearly everyone (92 percent) reported feeling fatigued at least two days a week. We’re guessing that’s partly due to the fact that most survey-takers only sleep around seven hours a night, instead of the aspirational eight hours. On top of that, the average person lies sleepless in bed for six hours every week. That’s a lot of tossing and turning.

Not only does a poor night’s sleep make waking up a drag, but it can seriously affect your quality of work, relationships, health, and daily functions. The majority of survey-takers described their five primary symptoms of fatigue as lack of energy (93 percent), inability to focus (69 percent), moodiness (62 percent), sore, achy muscles (40 percent), and headaches. Interestingly, 70 percent said fitness was the area most affected by their lack of sleep, followed by work, happiness, and social life.

So why all the sleeplessness and frustrating fatigue? There’s no way people are losing sleep for no reason, right? The main culprit: stress. General stress, closely followed by anxiety and work/school, remains the largest obstacle between respondents and their ideal night of rest. Sound familiar? These results align almost exactly with a recent global survey by Philips, which found 54 percent of people also named worry and/or stress as the largest sleep inhibitors.

If you find you’re losing precious sleep—even after treating yourself to a gravity blanket and redesigning your bedroom to improve sleep—the root of the problem might be intense stress or anxiety. In that case, you might want to give a few stress-busting and anxiety-reducing tricks, like deep-breathing and meditation, a try.