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Justin Fox

Americans Are Sleeping More, If Not Necessarily Better

Average snooze time is up, but so is the percentage of Americans catching less than seven hours of shut-eye. 

People seem to be trying to get more sleep, when they’re able.

People seem to be trying to get more sleep, when they’re able.

Photographer: Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush / Ey/EyeEm 

Last year was pretty terrible. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died of a scary new disease, tens of millions caught it and virtually all of us had our lives upended in some way. But hey, at least we seem to have gotten more sleep!

These data are from the American Time Use Survey, among the most wondrous of the statistical products of the U.S. government. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released 2020 numbers last week, and they’ve already gotten a lot of attention. The headline finding announced by the BLS was that the share of employed persons who did their jobs at least partly at home nearly doubled from 22% to 42%. Among the other things that journalists and researchers have discovered in the data so far are that employed mothers with children under 12 spent more time on child care than on their paid jobs, 12% of employed women reported working and taking care of their children simultaneously, and that men did more housework than in 2019 but still less than women.