Health & Wellness

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Here’s what Statistics Canada knows about our sleep patterns

By Lola Augustine Brown

How much sleep do you manage to get each night? According to a just released report by Statistics Canada, a lot of us aren’t getting the recommended number of hours: 7 to 9 hours a night for 18–64 year olds, and 7 to 8 hours a night for those 65 or older.

One-third of Canadians get less than 7 hours, and not getting enough good sleep, the report says, can lead to health problems that include irritability and depression at one end of the spectrum and obesity, Type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease at the other. Roughly the same proportion of the population—one-third—reported having trouble staying awake during the day.

Using data from the 2007–2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey, Statistics Canada reports that women get a bit more sleep than men: the average sleep duration for 18–64 year old women is 7.24 hours and for men, 7 hours. Seniors (65–79) averaged 7.24 hours of sleep, with no significant difference between how long men and women slept and the same one-third reporting getting less than 7 hours. A difference with the older group, though, is that about 15% of them are sleeping longer than the recommended 8 hours; the report observes that, in older people, sleeping for long periods may indicate a problem, signalling “a need for medical, neurological, or psychiatric evaluation.”

In both age groups, women were more likely than men to report having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, but the good news is that 75% of seniors and 55% of younger people said their sleep was “refreshing” most or all of the time.

An interesting finding was that those in lower-income households, no matter their age, were less likely to get the recommended amount of sleep than those in higher income households. Perhaps not having to fret about money is the ultimate sleep aid?

Photo: iStock/Squaredpixels.