Did Americans Lose Sleep Over the Election?

November 21, 2016

It turns out that not only was this election cycle unusually contentious, it actually interfered with our users getting a good night’s sleep. Data from 14,000 users of connected sleep trackers across the US showed that there was a significant change in sleeping patterns the night after each of the Presidential debates, as well as the night after Election Day.

Our first round of data collection, published in the Wall Street Journal, showed that people slept 5 to 10 minutes less the night after each presidential debate. While the magnitude of the change in sleep patterns differed significantly among different states, the change remained statistically significant.
Wondering whether we would see this same impact on sleep duration the night after Election Day, we examined our sleep data and found some striking results.

US citizens slept 35 minutes less the night after Election Day.

This major change in sleep duration could have several causes. Firstly, people had to stay up much later to follow the election coverage, especially due to the fact that the winner was not declared until almost 3am EST for those living on the East Coast. The less-than-stellar night’s sleep might also have been partially caused by the general stress and anxiety generated by the election.
Were users living in the West Coast impacted as much by this event? Take a look at this map of our sleep data to better understand the effects of Election Day on sleep duration for each state:

It turns out that although Americans on the West Coast didn’t need to stay up as late to view the election results, they lost just as much sleep as East Coasters. And it didn’t matter whether your state voted Republican or Democrat—the sleep loss was almost identical, with users in Democratic states losing an average of 36.7 minutes of sleep, and users in Republican states losing 35.6 minutes of sleep.
Swing state voters also didn’t see any difference in sleep loss, with 34.9 minutes lost, versus non-swing state voters losing 36.8 minutes. While the country was highly divided in politics, there is one thing that we can all agree on—Election Day definitely made us lose sleep.

Study Methodology

This study was conducted by Withings based on anonymous data from a pool of more than 14,000 users of Withings sleep trackers (Pulse, Activité watches, Aura) in the US. All the sleep data used in the study was data pushed automatically and in real-time by the devices onto the Withings cloud platforms. Withings guarantees the confidentiality of personal data and protects the privacy of all its users, so all data used in this study is anonymized and aggregate.