Fun and Games: Hobbies, Sleep

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Father wheeling son in wheelbarrow

We all need a break sometimes, and for many Americans, hobbies that range from reading to watching sports provide a diversion from the stresses of day-to-day life, particularly in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while some hobbies can help people relax and wind down to enjoy better sleep, others might contribute to restlessness.

The 2020 State of America’s Sleep survey, fielded by the Better Sleep Council, the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, found that the quality of Americans’ sleep has declined since 2019. The second edition of the sleep survey was conducted in January with a follow-up in March to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to the survey, 75% of Americans enjoy participating in individual activities and hobbies. Those pursuits include spending time with family and exercising, as well as a range of activities that enable Americans to stay informed, enjoy the arts and simply disconnect from the rigors of everyday life.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular activities among Americans is watching, listening to or reading the news, with more than half of survey respondents saying they pay attention to the news every day. While staying informed is important, with so many negative stories flooding the news cycle each day, it’s possible news consumption can lead to sleepless nights.

News sources aren’t the only things Americans enjoy reading, though. More than half of respondents said they like reading fiction, while 49% enjoy reading nonfiction. And the relatively new medium of podcasts has become popular with more than a quarter of Americans tuning into their favorite shows.

Sports are another source of pleasure for Americans. Nearly half of respondents said they enjoy watching sports on TV, and 42% like watching sports in person. And 28% like to get in the game themselves, participating in competitive activities.

Americans enjoy flexing their creative muscles, too, with 53% saying they engage in activities, such as painting, knitting, writing or playing music. Enjoying the art of others is important, too. Among respondents to the survey, 52% enjoy attending concerts, and 43% have fun attending plays and the theater.

Spending time outdoors is a major source of entertainment for many respondents to the survey. More than half said they participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking, bike riding and kayaking. And 43% of Americans enjoy the satisfaction of planting, nurturing and watching plants grow in their gardens.

With some of these activities limited due to restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19, a significant number of Americans may find themselves unable to participate in their favorite hobbies. And that loss of stress-relieving diversion also may have a negative impact on their sleep.