The National Sleep Foundation released the results of its annual Sleep in America poll earlier this week, which sparks an annual rush among headline writers to portray Americans in the most sleep-deprived light possible. One example? The New York Times headline on the report: “New Study Finds Many Americans Say They’re Too Tired for Sex.”
Sounds bad, right? Well, if you read deeper, you learn that according to the NSF poll, about one in four poll respondents said they were “often” too tired to have sex. You can spin that to say that many Americans are too tired for sex, or you could spin it to say that the vast majority of Americans (three in four) aren’t often too tired for sex. That’s reason to celebrate!
And the good news goes on. Even if one in four Americans say they’re often too tired for sex, keep in mind that most people who are married or living with a partner don’t have sex every night anyway. So just because you’re “often” too tired doesn’t mean that would keep you have from hitting that average rate of twice per week or so.
For whatever reason as a society, we like the narrative of sleep deprivation, and so any finding will be spun to support that. But here’s a more realistic statistic. According to the American Time Use Survey, the average American sleeps 8.3 hours per weeknight, and 9.3 on weekends. We have plenty of time for sleep. We have plenty of time for sex. I have no idea why it’s so compelling for people to think otherwise.