StatsCAN Plus

Can’t sleep, count sheep

August 23, 2022, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

Counting sheep is an age-old cure for insomnia. Statistics Canada counts sheep as part of our mission to tell the story of Canada’s agriculture industry. We also track sleep and insomnia to better understand the health of Canadians. Unfortunately, in Canada, insomniacs outnumber sheep by a wide margin.

Previous studies suggest that one-quarter of Canadians are dissatisfied with their sleep

Research studies suggest that approximately one in four Canadian adults were dissatisfied with their sleep in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. From 10% to 15% of Canadians reported symptoms of insomnia associated with daytime consequences, while 6% to 10% met the criteria for an insomnia disorder. To put this into perspective, from 2.2 million to 3.7 million Canadians could be struggling with a sleep disorder.

We count sheep, but not when we can’t sleep

Canada’s flock of sheep is small by world standards, accounting for less than 1% of the estimated 1.3 billion sheep who graced this earth in 2021.

We counted 822,000 sheep in Canada as of January 1, 2022, up 3.9% from the same day a year earlier but 77.3% below the record-high 3.6 million sheep counted on July 1, 1931.

A person battling insomnia could count every sheep in Newfoundland and Labrador in just under an hour (2,300 sheep as of January 1, 2022). Counting New Brunswick’s flock would take two hours and 15 minutes (5,400 sheep). (This rate is derived by counting 40 sheep a minute.)

If counting all the sheep in Ontario (267,400 sheep or 111.4 hours) or Quebec (175,700 sheep or 73.2 hours) does not put you to sleep, you might want to seek help.

The consequences of not enough sleep are no laughing matter

Not getting enough sleep is associated with higher rates of mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental and cognitive disorders, and accidents and injuries. In Canada, the individual economic burden of insomnia is estimated at $5,010 per person per year, with nearly 90% of this amount attributed to indirect costs, such as work absenteeism and reduced productivity.

Just over three in five Canadians get a good night’s sleep

The good news is that just over three in five Canadians (63.1%) were getting excellent or good sleep quality in early 2020, with men more likely to report getting a good night’s sleep than women. High sleep quality was more common among seniors compared with adults under the age of 65.

Looking for more sleep or sheep data?

The sleep habits of Canadians are regularly assessed via Statistics Canada’s health surveys, including the Canadian Community Health Survey and the Canadian Health Measures Survey.

Canadian sheep numbers at the end of June are now available.

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free or Media Relations (