Sleep Survey Objectives

Innovation in the mattress industry ultimately serves a single common goal: improving buyers' sleep quality and, in turn, their health and quality of life.

All it takes is one restless night or exhausting day to realize just how crucial sleep is to your overall livelihood. While many factors—physical health, mental health, diet, and daily routines, to name a few—influence the quality and duration of sleep you get each night, your mattress is one of the most significant contributing factors to getting a good night’s rest.

The best mattress manufacturers embrace the wide variety of consumer preferences and the unique needs associated with different sleep positions and sleeper profiles. To remain at the forefront of mattress technology, Nolah conducts extensive research into consumers' pain points with their current mattresses.

Most recently, Nolah conducted a survey through an independent research group to analyze current consumer trends in the mattress industry and the difficulties people experienced relating to sleep.

The results from this study and other similar research not only help us with product development and mattress tech advancement but the data can also help consumers identify the mattress features that best suit their needs and, potentially, improve sleep hygiene.

Moreover, the survey results may provide any reader—not just those shopping for a new mattress—insight into the challenges they face and potential solutions for improved sleep quality and duration.

Sleep Survey Methodology & Definitions

Our research partner, Drive Research, conducted this survey from April 9th through April 13th, 2021. The eight-question survey took an average of two minutes to complete.

Using quotas representative of current U.S. Census data, Drive Research surveyed 400 adults. With 400 participants and a 95 percent confidence level, any other random sample of 400 respondents from the same population would yield similar results within 5 percent of the stated totals.

For the purpose of this survey report, we used the following definitions for these terms:

Gender

  • Male– The participant self-identified as male
  • Female– The participant self-identified as female
  • Non-binary– The participant self-identified as non-binary

  • Other– When asked “which of the following do you most identify with?” and given the options male, female, non-binary, or other, the participant selected other

Generation

  • Gen Z– Born in 1996 to 2003 
  • Millennial– Born in 1977 to 1995
  • Gen X– Born in 1965 to 1976
  • Baby Boomers– Born in 1946 to 1964 
  • Traditionalists– Born in 1925 to 1945

Sleep Survey Questions & Results 

Q1: Which of the following age groups best describes you? Select one.

Born in or Before 1945

3.0%

Born 1946 to 1964

36.3%

Born 1965 to 1976

23.3%

Born 1977 to 1995

29.3%

Born 1996 to 2003

8.3%

 

Q2: Approximately how old is your current primary mattress? Select one.

Less Than 1 Year Old

9.3%

1 To 2 Years Old

18.3%

3 To 4 Years Old

19.3%

5 To 6 Years Old

14.3%

7 To 8 Years Old

10.3%

9 To 10 Years Old

7.8%

Older Than 10 Years

16.3%

Unsure

4.8%



Q3: What materials does your current primary mattress contain? Select all that apply.

Coils/Springs

40.0%

Memory Foam

34.5%

Foam (Non-Memory Foam)

20.5%

Unsure

18.8%

Latex

11.3%

Gel

8.0%

Other

0.5%



Q4: What position(s) do you typically sleep in? Select all that apply. 

Right Side

62.5%

Left Side

53.0%

Back

31.0%

Stomach

21.5%




Q5: How long does it typically take for you to fall asleep? Select one.

Less Than 5 Minutes

7.5%

Between 5 and 10 Minutes

28.0%

Between 11 and 20 Minutes

26.3%

Between 21 and 30 Minutes

16.3%

Between 31 Minutes to 1 Hour

11.8%

Between 1 to 2 Hours

5.3%

Between 2 to 3 Hours

1.8%

Longer Than 3 Hours

3.3%



Q6: What are your biggest pain points that prevent you from sleeping? Select all that apply.

Back Pain

29.8%

Stress

26.3%

Anxiety

22.8%

The Room Is Too Warm

22.8%

Neck Pain

20.0%

Restless Legs

18.0%

Hip Pain

15.3%

Shoulder Pain

15.0%

Mattress Discomfort

13.8%

None of the Above (I Typically Fall Asleep With No Issue)

13.8%

Your Sleeping Partner’s Snoring

12.3%

Sleep Apnea

11.0%

External Noise (Neighbors, Traffic, Etc.)

10.8%

The Room Is Too Bright

8.0%

Your Sleeping Partner’s Movement

7.8%

Other

2.3%



Q7: What external or environmental changes help you fall asleep more quickly? Select all that apply. 

Sleeping in a Room with a Cooler Temperature

46.5%

Sleeping in a Darker Room, with Less Light

40.5%

Fan

37.5%

Special Pillows (Body Pillow, Wedge Pillow, Cooling Pillows, etc.)

24.8%

Television on

24.3%

Air Purifier/Humidifier

13.0%

Noise Machines or Apps

10.0%

None of the Above (I Do Not Need Modifications to Fall Asleep)

9.8%

CPAP Machine or Other Sleep Apnea Devices

5.8%

Other

1.3%



Q8: Which of the following do you most identify with? Select one.

Male

49.8%

Female

49.3%

Non-Binary

0.5%

Other

0.5%

 

Sleep Survey Findings

A Closer Look at US Mattress Buying Habits

The Mattress Materials Market

In modern mattresses, one or more of the following materials make up the bulk of the product: innersprings, coils, memory foam, and foam. While some newer mattresses include added support or cooling agents like gel or copper infusions, these materials generally serve as a mattress's primary support system. 

Of the participants surveyed, 40 percent own an innerspring or coil mattress, 35 percent have a mattress with memory foam (viscoelastic foam), 21 percent use a mattress with another form of foam (such as polyurethane foam with varying density), and 11 percent have a latex mattress. Twenty-one percent of those surveyed reported owning a mattress made with more than one of these materials, meaning they have a hybrid mattress. 

While innerspring/coil mattresses are the most popular overall and among every other generation, the majority of millennials surveyed (44.4 percent) own a mattress with memory foam. While this may be a matter of preference, it may suggest that younger individuals are more likely to try newer mattress materials and features. 

There does seem to be a generational divide associated with the ownership of newer mattress technologies like memory foam, other foam blends, and hybrids. About 56 percent of Gen X, 78 percent of millennials, and 49 percent of Gen Z individuals own a mattress with these newer features. This compares to 36 percent of baby boomers and 33 percent of traditionalists. 

How Often Do People Replace Their Mattresses?

Another objective of this survey was to determine how long people use the same mattress. Keep in mind that, on average, a mattress's lifespan is about seven to 10 years. 

About 16 percent of those surveyed reported their primary mattress is more than 10 years old. While almost 5 percent of participants didn't know the age of their mattress, about 72 percent said their mattress is eight years old or younger. 

16 percent of people use a mattress more than 10 years old

It's no surprise that older respondents tend to own older mattresses. Thirty-three percent of traditionalists and 19 percent of baby boomers own a mattress more than 10 years old, compared to 15 percent of those in Gen X, 12 percent of millennials, and 15 percent of zoomers (Gen Z). 

These results seem to align with the lifestyle habits of each generation. Since younger individuals tend to move more frequently, it follows that they would purchase mattresses more often or have purchased one more recently. 

Also, as previously discussed, younger individuals are more keyed into the new mattress technologies available. This could mean they're more willing to switch up their mattresses in favor of newer materials.

Factors Influencing How Fast You Fall Asleep

When asked what environmental factors, pain points, conditions, or other disturbances prevent them from falling asleep, only 14 percent of participants reported that they typically fall asleep with no issue.

The majority of respondents (about 62 percent) said they typically fall asleep in 20 minutes or less. These results align with research published in the Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, which reported five to 10 minutes as the mean adult sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep). 

38 percent of people have a sleep latency of more than 20 minutes

However, that means 38 percent of respondents regularly take longer to fall asleep than the "normal" adult sleep latency period. According to our survey, 5 percent of adults take one to two hours to fall asleep, 2 percent take two to three hours, and 3 percent take 3 hours or more. 

What causes or contributes to the inability to fall asleep?

The survey results revealed compelling correlations between sleep latency and age, mattress age, mattress type, and physical pain points.

Demographics

Gender

Overall, women are more likely to fall asleep faster than men, with the largest group of women taking between five and 10 minutes to fall asleep (30 percent), versus most men taking between 11 to 20 minutes to fall asleep (30 percent). Also, men are nearly twice as likely as women to take more than three hours to fall asleep. 

Generational Differences

How does sleep latency compare across generations?

Our research found that the older generations are less likely to take longer than the "normal" adult sleep latency period to fall asleep. About 33 percent of traditionalists and 26 percent of baby boomers reported taking 21 minutes or more to fall asleep.

On the other hand, 45 percent of millennials, 45 percent of zoomers, and 47 percent of Gen X typically require more than 20 minutes to fall asleep. 

As previously mentioned, a wide range of factors (physical comfort, mental health, diet, etc.) influence sleep latency, so it's difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes it more difficult for the younger generations to fall asleep. However, we do have a few theories that warrant further research. 

For example, it's well documented that higher stress levels and other mental health concerns influence sleep latency. In our survey, 26 percent of respondents cited stress as one of the biggest obstacles to falling asleep, and 23 percent said the same about anxiety. 

A 2019 American Psychological Association (APA) study found that 45 percent of zoomers, 51 percent of Gen X, 56 percent of millennials, 70 percent of baby boomers, and 74 percent of people from previous generations reported very good or excellent mental health. Said another way, positive self-reported mental health levels are the least common among Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X, the generations that experience higher sleep latency. 

The results from our survey coincide with the APA's data. With 36 percent of zoomers citing it as a pain point preventing sleep, Gen Z is the most likely to be kept awake by anxiety. 

Stress keeps 42 percent of Gen Z from sleeping

In terms of stress, 42 percent of zoomers, 29 percent of millennials, 28 percent of Gen X, 21 percent of baby boomers, and 8 percent of traditionalists cited stress as a significant pain point preventing sleep. 

Mattress Age

All mattresses, regardless of their make and materials, wear with age. Indicators of a worn-down mattress include sagging, lumps, creaky springs, general discomfort, and mold growth. But does a mattress's age and wear and tear directly lead to difficulty sleeping?

Our survey found that, on average, people with a newer mattress (less than 3 years old) fall asleep faster than those with an older mattress (3 to 10 years old).

Sleep Position

In general, people base their nightly sleep position based on comfort. Whether a sleep position comes naturally to you or you actively choose to sleep a certain way to avoid pressure or pain, you likely base this decision on feel. 

There's a large pool of literature exploring which sleep position is best for the human body. However, most experts agree there isn't any one sleep position that's superior to the others, as people have different needs based on their weight and body type, medical conditions, and comfort preferences. 

That being said, our survey does provide insight into which types of sleepers tend to fall asleep the fastest. According to our survey of 400 adults, 67 percent of people who sleep on their right side can typically fall asleep in 20 minutes or less. 

Meanwhile, 62 percent of left side sleepers, 60 percent of combination sleepers (people who regularly sleep in more than one position), 58 percent of back sleepers, and 55 percent of stomach sleepers usually fall asleep within 20 minutes.

Pain Points

Among survey participants, back pain was the most commonly cited physical pain point that prevented sleep (30 percent). Within the subset of participants with back pain, 48 percent reported taking more than 20 minutes to fall asleep. 

30 percent of people can't sleep because of back pain

After back pain, neck pain was the most common complaint with 20 percent of respondents selecting it as a typical disturbance preventing them from falling asleep. Fifteen percent of participants cited hip pain, and 15 percent cited shoulder pain. 

Other medical issues like restless legs (18 percent) and sleep apnea (11 percent) were also selected as common pain points that hindered individuals’ ability to fall asleep.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors also play a role in people’s ability to fall asleep. The room being too warm was cited as a pain point for 23 percent of those surveyed, and 11 percent complained about noise from neighbors and traffic. 

A partner's snoring keeps 12 percent of people awake

Twelve percent of respondents said their sleeping partner’s snoring regularly interfered with falling asleep, and 8 percent said the same about their sleeping partner’s movements. 

Noteworthy Correlations

Pain Points and Sleep Position

It's understood that different sleep positions can relieve or aggravate pain in different parts of the body. Moreover, some people train themselves to sleep in a certain position to avoid or increase pressure on specific areas.

With the relationship between sleep position and pain points in mind, we wanted to see which physical pain points are associated with each sleep position. Based on survey responses, we found that:

  • Back Pain– Twenty-two percent of right side sleepers said back pain regularly prevented them from falling asleep. This compares to 21 percent of left side sleepers, 21 percent of back sleepers, and 18 percent of stomach sleepers.

  • Neck Pain– Right side sleepers are the most likely to report neck pain. Sixteen percent of right side sleepers, 15 percent of back sleepers, 12 percent of left side sleepers, and 9 percent of stomach sleepers surveyed claimed neck pain prevented sleep.

  • Shoulder Pain– Our data shows that stomach sleepers are the most likely to experience shoulder pain that makes it harder to fall asleep. Fourteen percent of stomach sleepers, 12 percent of back sleepers, 8 percent of left side sleepers, and 5 percent of right side sleepers cited this complaint.

  • Hip Pain– Twelve percent of the right side sleepers surveyed claimed hip pain as an issue preventing sleep. This compares to 9 percent of back sleepers, 9 percent of stomach sleepers, and 8 percent of left side sleepers.

Mattress Type and Mattress Discomfort

From a list of common complaints, 14 percent of respondents selected "mattress discomfort" as a factor that prevents them from falling asleep. 

Of the respondents who reported mattress discomfort, 20 percent have an innerspring/coil mattress, 15 percent have a memory foam mattress, 4 percent have a latex mattress, and 2 percent have a foam (non-memory foam) mattress. 

20 percent of people with mattress discomfort own an innerspring mattress

The remaining participants who reported mattress discomfort do not know what type of mattress they own or selected multiple materials. 

Modifications For Falling Asleep

While people report a wide range of factors that negatively impact their ability to fall asleep, many of these pain points can be alleviated through fairly simple changes. To better understand your options for relief, it may be useful to see how others with similar issues make modifications to support better sleep.

Temperature

Twenty-three percent of participants selected an uncomfortably high temperature as a significant obstacle to falling asleep. Overall, similar proportions of men, women, and non-binary individuals reported experiencing this pain point. 

Turning on the air conditioning, using a fan, and/or switching sheets or sleep attire out for more breathable fabrics can make your environment more comfortable. You may also want to consider switching to a mattress with cooling properties. 

Noise

Around 25 percent of respondents in each age group reported that turning on the television helped them to fall asleep. Use of a white noise machine (or app) was slightly higher among Gen Z and millennials (12 and 14 percent) versus 10 percent of Gen X, 7 percent of baby boomers, and 8 percent of traditionalists.

Special Pillows

Special pillows, such as body pillows, wedge pillows, cooling pillows, and memory foam pillows, can help you get more comfortable and drift off to sleep. Depending on your sleep position and the pain points you experience, you'll want to position your pillows differently for targeted support. 

Based on the survey responses, back sleepers are most likely to use a special pillow to help them fall asleep, followed by stomach sleepers, right side sleepers, then left side sleepers.