Canadians losing sleep over money, finances and employment


If you have not been bombarded by mattress commercials on television over the past six months, consider yourself lucky. Whether you are watching a sitcom, the news or sports, there are many companies promising you the best sleep of your life.

The prevalence of these ads motivated Research Co. to take a look at the way Canadians are currently slumbering – on weekdays and weekends – and what is making it harder for many of us to fall asleep.

Current Health Canada guidelines call for Canadians aged 18 to 64 to sleep an average of seven to nine hours every night, and those over the age of 65 to sleep between seven and eight hours. The recommendations do not contemplate a change on weekends, when factors like the accumulated stress of the workweek or an overindulgence on Fridays and Saturdays may prompt Canadians to wake up later than usual.

Research Co. found that, on weekdays or workdays, only 35% of Canadians are within the Health Canada guidelines and sleeping between seven and nine hours each day. This means that almost two-thirds of the country’s adults (64%) are resting fewer hours at night than recommended: 34% for seven to eight hours, 20% for five to six hours and 10% for fewer than five hours.

While 30% of Canadians are asleep for fewer than six hours on weeknights, there are some regional discrepancies. You are more likely to run into an early riser in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (37%), Ontario (33%) and Atlantic Canada (32%) than in Alberta (28%), British Columbia (25%) and Quebec (25%).

The statistics change on weekends or non-workdays, with 45% of Canadians meeting the sleep allotment endorsed by Heath Canada – up 10 points from what is reported on weekdays. Your chances of getting a phone call answered early on Saturday or Sunday diminish greatly if the recipient is in Quebec or Alberta, where majorities of residents (54% and 53%, respectively) sleep more than seven hours on weekends or non-workdays.

One-quarter (25%) of Canadians say they never find it hard to sleep at night on an average week. Almost two in five (39%) report having trouble falling asleep at night at least three days a week.

The proportion of Canadians who find it challenging to fall asleep five days a week curiously deviates according to political allegiance, from a low of 34% for Liberal Party of Canada voters in the 2019 federal election, to 40% for Conservative Party of Canada supporters and 45% for those who cast a ballot for New Democratic Party candidates last year.

When asked how they feel after a typical night’s sleep on a weekday or workday, 30% of Canadians acknowledge that they are not “well rested.” The proportion drops to 25% after a typical night’s sleep on a weekend or non-workday. While just 17% of Canadians claim to be “very well rested” when facing a weekday or workday, the proportion increases to 23% for both Quebecers and those aged 55 and over.

Our final question looked at what is keeping us awake at night. Practically half of Canadians (49%) say that worrying about money and financial matters made it harder for them to sleep over the past month. Being affected by these concerns is more widespread among Albertans (62%), Canadians aged 18 to 34 (58%) and women (54%).

One-third of Canadians (32%) lost sleep over relationships and family issues. Residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan (36%) and Ontario (35%) are at the top of this list.

About three in 10 Canadians (29%) say fretting about health made it more difficult to fall sleep. Regionally, the number of health worriers was highest in Atlantic Canada (34%).

About one-quarter of Canadians (23%) found it difficult to sleep because they were concerned about work. On this issue, the age gap is astonishing. While only 7% of Canadians aged 55 and over cite employment as a cause for sleeplessness, the proportion jumps to 27% among those aged 35 to 54 and to 41% among those aged 18 to 34.

The results show a country that is not sleeping as much as it is supposed to, with some clear differences among regions and age groups. Regardless of how much time they are able to sleep, three in 10 Canadians are not waking up refreshed and ready to encounter a new day – including 35% of millennials and 38% of women. •

Mario Canseco is the president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online study conducted from December 18 to December 20, 2019, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.