What’s the Average Bedtime for Adults?

What’s the Average Bedtime for Adults?
average bedtime for adults

We all know we should be going to bed at least 8 hours before we have to wake up the next morning, but how many of us are actually doing it? Not many, according to my research. The average bedtime for adults in the USA was calculated in a 2014 study conducted by the now-defunct technology company, Jawbone. The data was nicely separated by county, as you can see in the image below. Even if it’s not the most current data, it still gives us a good idea how sleep deprived city-dwelling Americans (and the rest of the city-dwelling world) probably are.

After plugging in the values from across the USA, it appears the average bedtime for adults is approximately 11:30 pm. However, according to this 2013 Gallup poll, Americans only get an average of 6.8 hours of sleep per night. Clearly, people are not making up for this later bedtime by waking up later.

This lovely map displaying the average bedtime by US county was originally created by Jawbone. The edits and commentary are mine.

Check out the early bedtimes throughout rural Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming on the map! Not bad in New Mexico as well. Nice! #bedtimegoals

I also noticed that Hawaiians are staying true to their laid-back reputation with a 10:30 – 10:45 pm bedtime. #alohalife here I come! (I wish)

City People Vs. Rural People

It’s interesting to note that people in rural areas have earlier bedtimes than city dwellers (especially those living in larger cities.) This makes sense, though. As someone who lives in Los Angeles, I can testify to the general truth of this. People in cities tend to have more chaotic, complicated lives, and it can be more difficult to unplug and unwind as the day comes to a close.

Because I’m a dedicated early riser at 5:30 am, I’m in my bed by 9:30 pm at the latest and try to fall asleep between 9:30 and 10 pm. Since I live in a super busy part of L.A., no one except me appears to be going to bed at 9:30 pm and no one cares that I’m trying to sleep. It can be difficult to fall asleep at this time without taking some extra steps to prevent getting disturbed.

Cities Never Sleep

There’s always something going on outside of my apartment or in the distance that bugs me, whether it be sirens, cars peeling out, car alarms, low-flying helicopters, screaming neighbors, loud music, etc. These things go on anywhere from my 9:30 pm bedtime until who knows when into the night – until 2 am or later sometimes. That’s just the reality of living in a large city. No wonder no one is getting any sleep

How I Fall Asleep Early

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ve had to resort to earplugs, white noise, and soundproof curtains – these gems, if you’re curious. Yeah, I know… Move out of the city, right? 🙁

Average Bedtime for New Yorkers

According to this Huff Post article, New Yorkers – Brooklyn residents, in particular, have the latest average bedtime in the country, hitting the sack at 12:07 am. Look at the chart below to see the late bedtimes throughout New York City.

What’s Keeping Us Awake So Late?

The average bedtime keeps getting pushed later and later as the years go by, it seems. So what’s keeping us awake?

If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say it’s our electronic devices. Adults and kids alike are staring at the bright screens of our TVs, smartphones, and tablets late into the night.

In order to remedy the situation, adults as well as kids need to implement and stick to a curfew. This means putting away all electronic devices and turning off the TV at least an hour before bedtime.

Obviously, it’s the adults who need to lead the way and set a good example for the kids. Perhaps it’s time to power off the devices and bunker down for an old-fashioned bedtime story.

What’s Wrong With Using Electronics at Bedtime?

Well, a lot is wrong with it. 

For starters, keep you alert when you should be winding down. By engaging your brain with “just one more game of Candy Crush” or answering “just one more email”, you are sending a message to your body that you must stay awake right now because your brain is busy. 

Second, the phone itself might wake you up if you keep it in the same room that you sleep in. This is especially true if you forget to turn the sound off and you’re hearing notifications, text messages, and phone calls all night. 

Third, and probably most importantly, the bright screens on electronic devices emit a blue light that inhibits your melatonin production and increases alertness. Melatonin is the amazing light-sensitive hormone our bodies produce in the evening as the sun sets and as we dim the lights in preparation for winding down and sleeping. If we have bright lights in our faces up until the very moment we lay down to sleep, the body will not have yet got the message that it’s time to sleep. So, we won’t feel sleepy until much later, which throws off our whole schedule. I’m pretty sure you can see the problem here…

Electronic Device Alternatives

If you need to read or listen to something in order to fall asleep, I totally get it. I’m the same way most nights. Try reading an actual paper book or try this e-reader that reads just like paper and doesn’t delay sleep. You can also listen to audiobooks on that e-reader, if you prefer to listen rather than read. I’ve had my Kindle Oasis for about 6 months and it’s definitely a much better buy than the super expensive iPad.

Another great pre-bedtime electronic device alternative that is much more conducive to an early bedtime is meditation paired with deep breathing. Put on some meditation music or a guided meditation track, focus on your breathing, and you’ll be much more at ease and much sleepier…earlier. Don’t believe me? Just try it.

Why is a Late Bedtime a Problem?

In and of itself, a late bedtime is not a problem if you are genuinely a night owl who performs best at night and if you are getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night (or day.) Late bedtimes generally only become a problem when you are still getting up early or if you aren’t going to bed at the same time every night. A consistent bedtime and adequate amounts of sleep (regardless of when it takes place) are what make you healthy – not whether or not you are an early riser.

At some point, you’re going to start feeling the consequences of sleep deprivation if the habit of inconsistency continues for a long period of time. When? I don’t know. Everyone is different, but one thing is for certain: You will feel it at some point.

Conclusion

I’m in the get up early camp, but I know many healthy people who do not get up early, so getting up early is not the only way to thrive. It just happens to be my way to thrive.

I’ll be sticking with my early 9:30 pm bedtime, even if it’s not average.

What about you? Let me know in the comments.

I'm the owner of WhyGetUpEarly.com and an enthusiastic early riser. Let's discuss why that is... and maybe I can make you a believer in magical mornings as well!

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