Sleep is in Short Supply for Many Critical Workers in the U.S.

Lack of sleep is a big problem across the world, but a new study reports that it’s even more of a problem for people with some of the most critical jobs in the community — the military, health care workers, and truckers.  

The Ball State University analysis of data from more than 150,000 employed adults between 2010 and 2018 also found that the rate of inadequate sleep (7 hours or less) rose from about 31% to nearly 36% during that time.

“Inadequate sleep is associated with mild to severe physical and mental health problems, injury, loss of productivity, and premature mortality,” said study author Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor at Ball State.

“This is a significant finding because the U.S. is currently witnessing high rates of chronic diseases across all ages, and many of these diseases are related to sleep problems,” Khubchandani said in a university news release.

In 2018, professions with the highest levels of poor sleep included the police and military (50%), health care support occupations (45%), transport and material moving (41%), and production occupations (41%).

Among men, those who reported getting 7 hours or less of sleep a night rose from 30.5% in 2010 to 35.5% in 2018. Among women, that rate rose from 31.2% to 35.8%.

From 2010 to 2018, the largest increases in sleep deprivation were reported by men, multiracial adults, older adults, those living in the western United States, and widowed, divorced, or separated people.