MONDAY, April 15, 2024 -- While more than half of Americans say they would feel better with more sleep, only 42% say they are getting as much shut-eye as they need, a new poll finds.

"This is nearly a reversal of the figures last measured in 2013, when 56% of Americans got the sleep they needed and 43% did not," the poll authors wrote.

Women under the age of 50 are particularly tired, the Gallup poll released Monday showed. The latest tally finds only 36% of women say they get enough sleep, compared to 48% of men.

Exactly how much sleep are people getting?

Only 26% said they got eight or more hours, while just over half (53%) reported getting six to seven hours. Twenty percent said they got five hours or less, a jump from the 14% who reported getting the least amount of sleep during the 2013 poll.

The poll doesn’t delve into why so many Americans are coming up short on sleep.

But what’s notable, according to Gallup senior researcher Sarah Fioroni, is the shift toward more Americans thinking they would benefit from more sleep and also the jump in the number of those saying they get five hours of sleep or less a night.

“That five hours or less category ... was almost not really heard of in 1942,” Fioroni told the Associated Press. “There’s almost nobody that said they slept five hours or less.”

In recent years, there also has been “this pervasive belief about how sleep was unnecessary -- that it was this period of inactivity where little to nothing was actually happening and that took up time that could have been better used,” Joseph Dzierzewski, vice president for research and scientific affairs at the National Sleep Foundation, told the AP.

It’s only relatively recently that the importance of sleep to physical, mental and emotional health has taken hold, he noted.

So why are Americans staying awake too long? One likely reason is cultural, as millions in this country place a premium on industriousness and productivity, experts said.

“It has been a core part of American culture for centuries,” Claude Fischer, a professor of sociology at the graduate school of the University of California Berkeley, told the AP. “You could make the argument that it ... in the secularized form over the centuries becomes just a general principle that the morally correct person is somebody who doesn’t waste their time.”

In her research in rural American communities over the years, Washington State sociology professor Jennifer Sherman says a common theme among people she interviewed was the importance of having a solid work ethic.

A key component of American cultural mythology is the idea of being “individually responsible for creating our own destinies,” she told the AP. “And that does suggest that if you’re wasting too much of your time ... that you are responsible for your own failure.”

While the poll shows a broad shift in sleep patterns over the past decade, living through the pandemic seems to have also significantly shifted people’s sleep patterns, the National Sleep Foundation says.

More information

Visit the National Institutes of Health for more on sleep.

SOURCE: Gallup Poll, April 15, 2024; Associated Press