Good Morning Smartphone! How Germany sleeps in 2020

A large proportion of the working population still uses their smartphone after 11 p.m. At the same time, 65% of phone alarm clocks ring before 7 a.m. In every fifth night the smartphone free time is less than 6 hours at a stretch. These are some result from a Murmuras study with 860 participants from Germany, in which real smartphone data was analyzed. The sleep study ran, with the consent of the test persons, from July until October 2020.

The collected data now allow objective insights into the sleeping habits of Germans: When does the alarm clock ring in the morning? How often do people snooze alarm clock? What are the last used apps in the evening? From when to when is the longest cell phone free time (= max. sleeping time in a row)?


At around 40% of the mornings a phone alarm is set

“Buy an alarm clock, banish the smartphone from the bedroom,” says Prof. Alexander Markowetz, co-founder of Murmuras and author of the book “Digitaler Burnout”. Quickly turn off your cell phone alarm clock, read WhatsApp messages, click on YouTube or Instagram Link. This is how many young smartphone users spend their mornings in bed. Even though the philosopher Henry David Thoreau already noted in the 19th century that the awakening hour is the most memorable season of the day. Nevertheless the smartphone is often a firm component of the morning routine. Data from the Murmuras sleep study show: At 39% of the mornings Germans use an alarm clock, under the week the value lies even with 45%. After the alarm clock app, WhatsApp is the most popular first application in the morning (18%).


In 65% of the mornings working people set the alarm before 7 am

At two thirds of the mornings the employed Germans set their phone alarm clock between 4:00 - 6:59 o’clock. 90% of the phone alarms start before 8 a.m. Students however set their alarm clock about one hour later on average: Here the alarm clock starts with 68% of the test persons before 7:59 and with 91% of the users before 9 o’clock.


57% alarm snoozing in the morning

How often was the phone alarm clock snoozed in the morning? According to our data analysis in 57% of cases. Also interesting: There was no significant difference between men and women.

Younger people are using the smartphone later at night

At 60% of the nights employed persons still use their cell phone after 23 o’clock. For all phone users between 18-25 years, the figure is over 70%. In the age group over 40 the value is only 41%.

The most used app before sleeping time is the alarm clock with 22%, followed by WhatsApp (16%) and the social media apps Instagram (7%) and Facebook (5%).


In 20% of the nights employed persons have less than 6h smartphone free time

Employed people had less than 6 hours of continuous smartphone-free time in every fifth night. According to our measurements, these nights were either interrupted or ended with active app usage. Sessions, where only the cell phone start screen was opened, are not considered here. Thus, at least 20% of the nights participants also slept less than 6 hours in a row.

How smartphone data can help sleep research

For the Murmuras study, 860 test persons have agreed that each app usage is recorded to the second from July until October 2020. The data was processed in compliance with the GDPR and exclusively for scientific purposes. By asking of socio-demographic questions, the participants could be differentiated by age, gender and other markers. This method has various advantages over previous approaches, which investigated sleep behavior through surveys or laboratory experiments. Test persons can participate in scientific studies in large numbers and without great effort. At the same time, thousands of objective data points on the real behavior of the test persons are collected. Highly individualized analyses can be carried out over a longer period of time and risk profiles can be identified more easily; e.g. also changes in behavior due to corona. By adding context-triggered questionnaires “You have just switched off your smartphone alarm. Are you still tired?” and wearables (e.g. recording pulse during the night), Murmuras is also working on additional methods to improve sleep research on a broad scale.

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