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Usual hours sleep per day

Codes and Frequencies

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This variable reports how many hours, on average, the respondent sleeps per day. In 1977 and 1983, respondents were asked about hours slept "at night" while for all later years, the survey asked about hours slept in a 24 hour period.

However, the 1977 Field Representative's Manual notes that if the person works at night, "hours of sleep" referred to the person's normal sleeping hours. Similarly, the 1983 Manual defines "sleep at night" to be the number of hours usually slept, "even if the sample person sleeps during the day."

For surveys prior to 2004, interviewers were instructed to write down responses verbatim. From 2004 forward, interviewers were instructed to report the hours of sleep in whole numbers, rounding values of 30 minutes or more UP to the nearest hour or otherwise rounding down.

IPUMS NHIS recodes the values from the earlier surveys into whole number values, following the same rules as 2004 forward.


Apart from the change in universe, this variable is generally comparable over time.

The question for HRSLEEP in 1977 was asked for a sub-sample of randomly selected persons age 20 and over; NHIS automatically classifies persons who were selected but did not complete the questions as responding "unknown" for this variable. Users may choose to use this variable in combination with SUBSRESP77, which reports the person's sub-sample status in 1977.


  • 1977: One third of persons age 20+.
  • 1983; 1985; 1990: Sample persons age 18+.
  • 2004-2018: Sample adults age 18+.


  • 1977, 1983, 1985, 1990, 2004-2018