Jitterbugs in bed: 2 in 3 Americans consider themselves ‘restless sleepers’

NEW YORK — Do you sleep on your back, side or stomach? For one in five Americans, it’s all of the above. That’s according to a new survey of 2,000 respondents, which found that 22 percent of those polled switch up their sleeping position every single night. 

Not surprisingly, two out of three (64%) identified themselves as restless sleepers, citing anxiety (26%) and snoring partners (20%) as the biggest catalysts of their tossing and turning. And that restlessness seems to have consequences – only one in ten (10%) say they feel refreshed every single time they wake up in the morning. 

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Purple Mattress, the data also suggests that the majority of Americans (42%) prefer to sleep on their side, almost twice as many as those who called back-sleeping (18%) or stomach-sleeping (17%) their favorite position.

Sleeping positions by generation

However, that proved less true for millennial respondents (ages 26-42), who were most likely to sleep on their stomach (19%) and least likely to sleep on their side (38%).

Interestingly, Millennials were most likely to change their sleeping position to accommodate neck pain (38%) – but also the most likely to report their sleep quality as “good” (73%) compared to the panel as a whole (66%).

Woman sleeping peacefully
(© volha_r – stock.adobe.com)

Regardless of demographics, pain ended up being a big sticking point for most respondents. Over half (53%) have attempted to deliberately change their sleeping position, most frequently to ease soreness (28%) or improve their quality of sleep (28%).

Out of those polled who’ve experienced soreness, back pain (36%) emerged as the most common complaint, followed by neck pain (33%) and shoulder pain (24%). Maybe that’s why overall, most respondents indicated a tendency to end up with their arms outstretched while sleeping.

Within the last two weeks of polling, 47 percent reported sleeping in the “yearner” position – on their side, with their arms out – while 40 percent ended up on their stomach in the “freefaller” position. 

Thirty-nine percent also found themselves in the “soldier” position, which involves sleeping on your back with your arms at your sides. 

Indeed, 69 percent even admitted to positioning their body “in whatever shape I need to fall asleep,” no matter how sore they feel in the morning. 

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2011 general population Americans was commissioned by Purple Mattress between Feb. 3 and Feb. 6, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia is a recent graduate from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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