Six Facts That Will Change The Way You Think About Sleep in New York

Monday, March 31, 2014

Clock your sleep with WNYC. Together we can get through the night. Clock your sleep with WNYC. Together we can get through the night. (Jennifer Hsu/WNYC)

In the city that never sleeps, are you getting enough?

More than 25 percent of the people in the United States report not getting enough sleep, and about 10 percent of people have chronic insomnia. So what could help us all sleep better? Join the WNYC sleep project to see how many winks you (and others in the New York City area) are getting each night.

Click on the audio above to hear WNYC Data News editor John Keefe explain how the sleep project works and how you can be involved. 

Need more convincing? Here are six facts that will change how you think about sleep in the city:

1. You can catch up on restorative sleep on the subway…

2. But you might get robbed: So far this year, about 20 percent of all grand larcenies on the MTA involved sleeping victims.

3. If you sleep fewer than seven hours per night, you get sick more. In fact, “you have three times the risk of contracting a cold compared with those who slept at least 8 hours per night,” according to Dr. Carl W. Bazil, director of the division of epilepsy and sleep at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. And generally, your immune system is way worse.

4. New Yorkers hit the sack half an hour later than the rest of the country but still get about the same amount of sleep. That's according to the fitness tracker Jawbone, whose New York users report going to bed 28 minutes later than their users elsewhere.

5. In 2013, there were 260,000 noise complaints to 311 -- making noise the number one quality of life complaint by New Yorkers. Good luck sleeping!

6. But if you’re having trouble getting some rest, at least you’re not alone. Mayor Bill de Blasio has already admitted to being our night-owl-in-chief.  "I think we should re-orient our society to stay up late," Mayor de Blasio said in November. “But I don’t think that’s happening right now.”



John Keefe


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Comments [7]

Please add a 'Suggestions/Comments' section to the Sleep project page. For example, I'm a meditator - twice a day, every day - and it would be advantageous to be able to enter that, instead of just the limited nap info that's included.

Apr. 09 2014 05:43 PM
Dianna M from Chelsea, NY

Have studies been done on people who work “round-the clock” work? My dad was a NYC Firefighter.
For instance:
AFTERNOON shift M-F was 4:00-12:00 - home 1:00am Friday,
off until NIGHT Shift – Sun-Thurs 12:00am-8:00am, off until DAY Shift - 8:00am- 4:00pm Sat to Wed - home 5:00pm - off from Thurs to the next AFTERNOON shift.
(Between DAY Shift & NIGHT Shift was the best one as that meant three days off). (Worse was between AFTERNOON & NIGHT shift, as that meant not quite two days off.)

Dad took catnaps constantly either in bed or on the sofa. He never slept when he should have. For example, after a night shift, when he should have come home, had something to eat, and go to bed, he didn’t. He stayed up. It was challenging to sleep during the day with five kids running around!
I have felt all of my life that my father's lack of sleep was the thing that often made him a very difficult and unreasonable person to live with.

My father had been retired for over twenty years, when he wound up in the hospital with a broken femur. He was in traction and hooked up to all kinds of things (in a bed that was too small for him!). One morning a nurse came in and shook him very roughly to wake him for medication. As a trained Firefighter, even though it had been over twenty years, his first reaction was to jump out of bed to respond to a fire! This would have been a disaster. (He later grabbed that same nurse and told her to never wake him like that again.)

So, FF’s are trained to wake up, but don’t think they are ever trained to sleep. This seems to me a dangerous situation, that as far as I know still exists.

Apr. 02 2014 12:59 PM
Bad Sleeper from NJ

I can only sleep after having sex, after having that activity then I fall to sleep faster but I still do not sleep through the night.

Apr. 02 2014 11:27 AM

I signed up for the WNYC Sleep Study. I wake up at different periods during the night sometimes. There is no field in the "clock your sleep" survey to indicate at what point during the night you were awake. There is a "how long were you up during the night" but I thought it would be helpful if there were specific time ranges. Also, it asks you what wakes you up, I picked 'all of the above' regarding city noise but really it is my girlfriend's snoring that wakes me up. There is no option for a partner disturbing ones sleep by snoring or moving around in the bed. One last thing, I wear earplugs while sleeping because I am a light sleeper. It would be interesting to see how many people in this survey use earplugs or some sort of white noise machines and/or sleep medications. I'm interested to see the results of this survey. Thank you.

Apr. 02 2014 10:29 AM

Maypolight, Go to or click on the blue box above which says "Join the sleep project now"

Apr. 02 2014 06:57 AM
Robin from Manhattan

<< New Yorkers hit the sack half an hour later than the rest of the country but still get about the same amount of sleep. That's according to the fitness tracker Jawbone, whose New York users report going to bed 28 minutes later than their users elsewhere.>>

?? how does that happen? Does the rest of the country get up 30 minutes earlier than NY'ers?

Apr. 01 2014 08:10 PM

I signed up already, have user name and password. Only own a what do I do?

Apr. 01 2014 07:58 PM

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