Sleep as a victim of the “time crunch” – A multinational analysis

John P. Robinson, William Michelson

Sleep time, time-diary sleep hours, men, women

As reflected in many popular and academic writings, there is general concern that contemporary life is becoming ruled by a societal “time crunch”, in which work and family pressures make daily life more hectic. One implication of this condition is that sleep time has been reduced in order to accommodate these pressures. While this view seems supported by recent national surveys in which Americans now claim to get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, it is not supported by sleep times reported in 2003-07 ATUS time diaries. If anything, time-diary sleep hours are higher than in previous decades, approaching 60 hours a week in both the US and Canada. Similar levels of sleep hours are found in 18 European counties, with most of those having trend data also showing no decrease in sleep over recent decades, with the exceptions of Germany and Japan. The major predictors of sleep time in US and Canada are work hours and, increasingly, education. The US-Canada finding that women sleep slightly more than men is mainly a reflection of these two predictors. Higher sleep for women is also found in more Northern and Western European countries, but not in more Eastern and Southern Europe; moreover, men in Japan, the country with by far the least sleep report more diary hours of sleep than women.