Where Did Our Sleep Go? Up to 61 Million U.S. Adults Lost Sleep in 2020 From Feeling Unsafe

Jalesa Campbell
Updated Feb 12, 2021
2 min read

A new survey conducted by Safety.com reveals that 1 in 4 Americans lost sleep in 2020 due to concerns about their security.

Join us in taking a closer look at these survey results and an exploration of why they’re significant for moving forward and getting a better night’s rest in 2021.

While burglaries had decreased, a number of factors in 2020 are likely to have contributed to fears of burglary and other concerns. 2020 was a year of changes, including lifestyle adjustments like social distancing and isolation, racial injustice and protests, record-breaking wildfires, unemployment, and a lot more.

For our survey, those who classified themselves as “Single”, “Divorced”, “Widowed”, or “Separated” were more likely to lose sleep for fear of their homes being burglarized. Following burglary, unusual sounds in the home (43%) and fear of home vandalism/malicious damage (40%) caused American adults to lose sleep.

Younger Americans Were More Likely to Lose Sleep Over Their Safety

Gen Z (35%) and Millennials (35%) were more likely to lose sleep over concerns for their safety than Baby Boomers (15%) and members of the Silent Generation (3%).

Almost half of Millennials were kept awake worrying about home burglary (45%), yet only 30% of Millennials said they have a home security system.

Women Were Found to Have Lost More Sleep Than Men

More than 1 in 4 women (28%) admitted to losing sleep over feeling unsafe at home, compared to about 1 in 5 men (21%). Burglary was the no. 1 cause for both men and women losing sleep due to fear. The second most commonly cited cause was unusual sounds in the home, with 52% of women sharing that concern compared to 31% of men. Men were more likely to lose sleep from fear of car theft (27%) and fear of identity theft (27%) than women.

Among parents of children under the age of 18, one in three (35%) were also kept up at night for home safety concerns, compared to about one in six parents of older children. Those with annual incomes less than $40,000 per year were also more likely to lose sleep at night over their safety (28%) compared to households making $40,000 or more annually.

More Than Half of U.S. Adults Don’t Own a Home Security System

Consistent with our previous findings many Americans still do not have a home security system. In this survey 58% of respondents said they do not own a home security system.

It was also interesting to note that out of those who said they lost sleep, 40% said they did not have a home security system but plan on getting one. This shows an awareness of a need to better protect the home, but suggests other circumstances could be standing in the way of moving forward.

If affordability is the issue, there are some cost-effective options for home security, like DIY systems or security cameras.

Locking Doors and Windows Put Most Minds at Ease

The majority (54%) of U.S. adults said that locking their doors and windows provided comfort while they were home at night. This finding highlights that simplicity of security can be enough to ease one’s mind. Interestingly, in a previous survey, we found that 44% of Americans were planning to rely on their door and window locks to protect themselves from burglary over the holidays.

Second to using door and window locks, American adults tended to report feeling more at ease by having access to a phone (44%) and having someone else there at home with them (43%). If primary options of security are not available, then people tend to turn to family members or friends that they can reach out to for help in an emergency.


Key Takeaways: Finding Sleep (and Security) in 2021

Given that so many Americans lost sleep in 2020 due to safety concerns, it’s important to address those concerns. Most participants were concerned about burglary, which makes securing the home a good starting point.

The good news? There are a variety of steps you can take to improve home security. If you’ve been concerned about your safety while at home, here are some alternative solutions to home security systems:

  • Consider installing security cameras. If you want to be able to monitor the exterior of your home, consider an affordable outdoor security camera or doorbell camerathat will allow you to receive notifications. For monitoring the interior, an affordable indoor security camera is an option to consider.
  • Consider lighting and home automation to thwart criminals. If you have an Amazon Alexa speaker, Google Home device, or any other smart device that will allow you to create scheduled automations, you can use this to your advantage to make it seem like someone’s home. The key here is not to make your automations predictable, but to make it look as if your home is occupied when no one’s there.
  • Consider a pet dog: One sure-fire way to deter a criminal is by adopting a dog. Most dogs will let you know when something is amiss!

For other concerns like unusual sounds in the house, home maintenance checks can help you feel more at ease while resting at night. It’s especially important to check for drafts, leaks, and other commonly known problems that could lead to costly repairs down the road.

For inclement weather, if you’re able to download a local weather app on your smartphone or table, you may be able to get the latest updates and information on weather in your area. Knowing ahead of time about inclement weather can help with easing feelings of anxiety as well as give you a chance to prepare.

Sleep deprivation is a real issue here in the U.S., and while experts recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, many Americans are being kept up for various reasons. But you can work toward getting better sleep in 2021. Sit down and consider adjustments that you can start making today so that you and your family can find rest more easily this year.

Photos by Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman / Marvin Coloma / EyeEm / GettyImages

Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.

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