You know who’s not tossing and turning at night? Atheists and agnostics.
A new study out of Baylor University finds that 73% of atheists and agnostics sleep at least seven hours a night, compared to only 55% of Baptists and 63% of Catholics. Atheists and agnostics also reported fewer difficulties falling asleep at night. The findings held even after controlling for details like age and socioeconomic status.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests at least seven hours of sleep per night.
The data comes from the Baylor Religious Survey, a nationwide poll that has been undertaken five times since 2005, and asks questions on religious beliefs, values, and behaviors. It includes topics like affiliations and personal beliefs about heaven. The latest rendition, in 2017, gathered responses from 11,000 surveys mailed out by Gallup.
The study’s findings are notable, as religious activity has long been correlated with better physical and mental health, and based on that, the researchers at Baylor had expected to find better sleep among religious communities. The work opens the door to further scientific attention on sleep and religiosity, likely including a larger study with objectively measured sleep habits.
The study, called “Sleep Health Across Religions,” was published in an online supplement to the journal Sleep, and presented last week at SLEEP 2020, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.