StatsCAN Plus

World Sleep Day

March 18, 2022, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)
A man lying in bed with bleary eyes staring at an alarm clock.

Today is World Sleep Day. Canadian adults younger than 65 were much more likely to meet the recommended sleep guidelines per night than seniors (77% versus 55%), while seniors slept, on average, 12 minutes longer per night (8.1 hours versus 7.9 hours).

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults recommend 7 to 9 hours of good-quality sleep for adults younger than 65, and 7 to 8 hours for seniors. Achieving adequate sleep on a regular basis with consistent sleeping and waking times maximizes health benefits. Not getting enough sleep is associated with higher rates of mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental and cognitive disorders, and accidents and injuries.

Just under 1 in 5 Canadian adults (18%) younger than 65 were getting less than 7 hours of sleep on average, while 1 in 20 (5%) were sleeping more than 9 hours a night. Almost one-third (29%) of seniors were sleeping more than 8 hours a night on average, while 15% were sleeping less than 7. Long sleep duration in older adults has been associated with poor sleep quality, poor general health and morbidity. Excessive sleep may also signal the need for medical, neurological or psychiatric evaluation.

Among adults aged 18 to 64, working Canadians had a lower mean sleep duration than unemployed or retired Canadians. Canadians aged 35 to 49 got the least amount of sleep per night on average, at 7.7 hours, possibly because of increased work and family demands.

Approximately three in five Canadian adults (61%) younger than 65 reported excellent or good sleep quality, compared with 71% of older adults.

Almost three in five Canadian adults younger than 65 fell asleep sometime between 8:00 p.m. and midnight, compared with just under three-quarters (72%) of seniors.

Over two-thirds (68%) of adults younger than 65 used electronic media within 30 minutes of bedtime, compared with three in five seniors (60%).

On average, women (8.1 hours) slept slightly longer per night than men (7.8 hours) and were more likely to meet sleep duration recommendations (74% versus 72%).

About two-thirds of respondents reported excellent or good sleep quality, with men more likely to report a good night’s sleep than women. High sleep quality was more common among seniors compared with those younger than 65.

Half of adults aged 18 to 64 reported high variability in sleep onset time between work or school days and free days, and two-thirds reported high variability in sleep duration and wake time. The discrepancy in sleep between work and free days is often referred to as “social jetlag.” In contrast, older adults had low variability in sleep duration, sleep onset time and wake time, likely because of minimal work commitments.

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