Bad news for those of you who included "sleep more" on your list of resolutions for this year.
The team behind sleep-analyzing app Sleep Cycle spent the past six months gathering real-time data from 235,616 American men and women between the ages of 18 and 55 who use the app and volunteered to share their sleep stats anonymously with the world. From January 1 to June 30, they recorded their sleep, stress, workout and caffeine intake details, allowing for Sleep Cycle to then explore how these components interacted with one another across the board. Check out their 6-month summary chart below to learn about what they found.
Their main discovery: We start strong in January with our sleep quantity, but it gets progressively worse with each month that passes.
Both men and women experienced the best sleep quality in February, and went to bed earliest throughout March (maybe thanks to Daylight Saving Time). And despite being the most sleep-deprived month measured, June ranked the highest for logged workouts for both men and women as the summer weather arrived.
Why Gender Matters
Men and women have very different sleep habits, according to an earlier report from Sleep Cycle. Women, on average, spend around 20 more minutes each day in bed than men, and they tend to experience higher stress levels and poorer wake-up moods.
One theory suggests that the male-female sleep discrepancy has do to with different hormonal makeups, and that when women are short on sleep, they end up struggling more physically and emotionally than men do when sleep-deprived.
The Exercise Equation
Science has long suggested that exercise can be an excellent way to reduce stress, and this data offers numbers that prove it. There was a clear, negative correlation between working out and feeling stressed out, suggesting that a solid sweat session helped the app users work through the rougher parts of their day, further contributing to their overall sense of well-being.
However, when they opted for an additional caffeine boost instead of a little gym time, typically the opposite reaction ensued. Both men and women noticed not only that consuming coffee didn't help their stress levels, but also that they tended to drink more coffee when they were feeling more stressed out in an attempt to cope. The two components consistently went hand in hand, which isn't too surprising since caffeine is known to exacerbate stress, not mitigate it. Plus, additional caffeine intake tends to wreak havoc on sleep quality as well.
With this intel in hand, let's spend the rest of 2015 improving our sleep habits rather than allowing the decline to continue. Sweet dreams!