Average Bedtime for Adults in US [Full Analysis]

What is the average bedtime for adults in the US? We did the math.


You might think that this is a simple question with a straightforward answer, but it’s not. There are few independent scientific studies to establish this data, only the results of small company studies.


It’s frustrating that the information isn’t directly available. Adults in the US go to bed at different times based on occupation, age, gender, day of the week, and countless other factors. Even how individuals measure their productivity can skew averages quickly. Where one person goes to bed at 11 PM on the dot every night, another might regularly go to bed at 3 AM. As a result, data collection for this type of study is difficult, easily skewed, and hard to measure the reliability of.


With that said, there is a lot of sleep data available that can give us a broad picture of the average bedtime for adults in the US. Let’s run through the studies to get to the heart of the matter.


The US Adult Bedtime Data We Have

Typically, polls and research have centered on how much sleep Americans are getting. For example, Gallup sleep polls suggest the typical adult will get between 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep a night.


This isn’t the data we want. A person going to bed at noon and waking up for dinner and someone going to bed at midnight and waking up at 6:30 AM are in the same category here.


We’ll have to work backwards to even approximate the average bedtime for adults in US homes. Since most people wake up based on the start of their workday, we can start with the commute.


Here are the four pieces of information we need to work our way back and get the answer:

  • From the Thrillist report on Overflow Data, the most typical Americans are getting to work between 7:45 and 8:00 in the AM.
  • The 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) shows the average commute to work in America is 27.6 minutes.
  • A YouGov poll on morning prep tells us that the majority of Americans spend 11-30 minutes getting ready before heading out the door. Women who wear makeup typically take even longer.
  • As stated, Americans get between 6.5-7 hours of sleep on average.


Putting these numbers together gives us a more definitive range:


Based on this analysis, the average bedtime for adults in America is between 11:45 PM and 12:50 AM.

ClockHug.com infographic explaining the process to understand average bedtime for adults in US homes.

Work From Home Changed Average Bedtime for Adults in US, Abroad

Some of this data comes from 2019, aka before the “new normal.” Due to commutes being slashed or becoming outright non-existent during the pandemic, Americans had more time before starting work. Some chose to use this time to sleep in, with some “using” that extra sleep time by staying up later.


A comprehensive sleep study (authors: Paul Lee, Jan Marek, Petr Nálevka) on pandemic-era sleep shifts tell us that people got between 11 minutes and 19 minutes of extra sleep each night. 


This allowed a later sleep onset time, with people nodding off between just a few seconds and 25 minutes later on weeknights. Residents of Los Angeles were able to go to bed nearly 12 minutes later, while Denver dwellers weren’t able to wait even a full minute.


Americans outside of the four major cities studied (Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and New York) had the longest weeknight sleep delay, averaging around 25 minutes.


As work from home continued, many people moved out of larger cities and into the suburbs. This suggests that the average bedtime for adults in US companies that still allow work from home go to bed between 12:10 AM and 1:15 AM.


Note: This study used data from Sleep as Android, but there was very clear information about how the data was trimmed and processed. There were also discussions of common errors and bugs in the app that could have caused data issues as well as commentary about how these errors were handled.


What time do successful people go to bed?

Look at the average bedtime in America and compare it to what most people think of as “healthy” and you’ll see a big difference.


Much like the average weight for adults in the US, the average bedtime for adults in US homes might not be the ideal bedtime.


While it is hard to quantify what is right for an individual, the whole thing got many people wondering, what is the best bedtime? It’s hard to say, but one furniture (and mattress) company known as HomeArena looked into the bedtimes of “successful” people and visualized it as follows:


The infographic from HomeArena shows when people the company decided were "successful" went to bed and other data about their sleep patterns.


Based on the “Sleep Time” chart, we can determine that successful people go to bed at an average time of 11:05 PM.


Note that this is a small sampling of people determined to be “successful” by fame and name recognition. Your local neurosurgeon, for example, was not part of this data. Additionally, the data is based on self-reported sleep times and comes from people throughout history — including Benjamin Franklin — who did not have their sleep affected by modern lighting and were more likely to wake up at the coolest part of the morning before dawn.


When should Americans go to bed?

Americans should go to bed when they’re tired. Work and school don’t always permit this, but forcing people to go to bed before they are tired to meet artificial schedules doesn’t help anyone.


Our cats perceive time based on their circadian rhythms and so do we. Much like the arrival of wizards, cats never go to bed too early or too late, then go to bed precisely on time.


With stringent start times for work and school, as well as the possibility of disciplinary actions taken for being late, not all Americans have this luxury in the current year. This leads to reduced sleep, increased stress, and worry about not waking up to alarms due to being overly tired. Additionally, overachieving Americans may consider sleep as a waste of time.


As work-from-home culture evolves and the ongoing changing of the workplace takes root, there will hopefully be a return to listening to the body in the sleep schedules of more and more Americans.


In the meantime, when do you wake up and what country/state are you from? Let us know in the comments below!

Related content:

2 Responses

    1. Hey Matt, thanks for the tip! How do you do this consistently? I usually feel my best between 8PM and 3AM no matter when I wake up.

      Do you have any advice for overnight workers, such as ER doctors and nurses, or those that work internationally?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *