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Sleep and Brain Health



AARP conducted a study among 40+ adults to characterize their sleep habits, understand what keeps people awake at night, and to examine the relationship between sleep and brain health.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly all adults (98%) believe that sleep is important for brain health and adults who sleep better rate their brain health better.

  • Those who rate their sleep quality higher average more hours of sleep per night and have higher average mental well-being scores.

  • Many adults have trouble staying asleep (53%) and/or sleeping through the night (44%). Adults who have these difficulties average less sleep per night and have lower average mental well-being scores. 

  • A majority of 40+ adults say they are well-rested and satisfied with the amount of sleep they get yet nearly half (48%) say they don’t get enough sleep.

  • Adults think they need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night to function at their best and they indeed average seven hours of sleep per night.

  • The most frequently cited activities that adults engage in within an hour of bedtime are watching television and browsing the web and one-third (34%) of adults keep a phone or electronic device by their bed.

  • Nearly nine in ten (88%) adults think a cool bedroom temperature is effective in helping people sleep. Yet only two in five (41%) adults keep their room between 60 and 67 degrees.

Interviews were conducted online among 2,464 adults age 40+ using GFK’s Knowledge Panel from August 31-September 14, 2016. Additional interviews were conducted among African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian adults age 40+. The data is weighted to reflect Current Population Survey and American Community Survey benchmarks. For more information, contact Laura Mehegan at For media inquiries, contact Greg Phillips at


Suggested Citation:

Mehegan, Laura, Chuck Rainville, and Laura Skufca. 2016 AARP Sleep and Brain Health Survey. Washington DC: AARP Research, January 2017.

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