In final hours of the 2016 election, it is worth finding some common ground. I know that I have been feeling more tired than normal lately, and it turns out that researchers have found that people have been sleeping less due to this election.
Researchers have been observing this fact since at least this election’s Super Tuesday several months ago:
Mobile health solution SleepRate revealed that the election season is having negative effects on our sleep. Interested to see how these historic and dramatic elections are affecting sleeping habits on primary nights, SleepRate compiled sleep data from across the United States on Super Tuesday and compared it to 6,235 nights of sleep on regular Tuesdays. The mobile health solution detected significant differences in how late people went to bed and with how early they got up. On average, participants went to bed 41 minutes later on Super Tuesday than they did on a regular Tuesday night, while they woke up 15 minutes earlier. In total, the participants lost an average of almost one hour of sleeping-time on Super Tuesday.
For the politically-inclined, it of course makes sense to stay up late watching as those last results trickle in, but this can create some bad sleep habits for nights that don’t have primary results. Anda Baharav, who was a former sleep researcher at Tel Aviv University and is now the CEO of SleepRate said that staying up late for results “has the potential to create poor sleeping habits, which can have a severely negative effect on your health.”
FitBit also found that its users have been losing sleep due to events in the election like presidential debates:
The night of the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Sept. 26, Fitbit users nationwide slept an average of 4.2 minutes less than they did the Monday before and the Monday after the debate. Users’ average sleep typically varies only about one to two minutes from one Monday to the next, so the change on the debate night is statistically significant.
These problems are not even limited to America. A mattress company in Canada has found that “twenty-two per cent of respondents reported loss of sleep due to stress caused by the presidential race and 16 per cent reported having nightmares or dreams association with the election.” This company, Novosbed, also surveyed sleepers in the US, and “found that people under the age of 35 experienced sleep loss and nightmares 40% more frequently than their older compatriots.”
As if all of this was not enough, Rodger Kamenetz, who works as a “natural dreamworker” has also found that Donald Trump has been in some his patient’s dreams at an increased rate that can only be due to the election.
Clearly the election has been affecting the ability that people have to sleep well. None of this is to say that people should stop staying up late to watch the debates or to wait for the final votes on the West Coast to be counted.
Rather, it is to say that now you know why you’ve been feeling more tired than you would during November of an off-year. And you are not alone.