Lonely Planet Writer

Many Americans are using their precious vacation days to catch up on sleep

Some Americans aren’t using their precious vacation days for a fun trip to a great destination – they’re using them to catch up on some much-needed sleep.

Many Americans are using their vacation days to get a good night's sleep.
Many Americans are using their vacation days to get a good night’s sleep. Image by ULTRA F/Getty Images

Almost 40% of Americans actually take five work days or more each year just to catch up on sleep, according to Princess Cruises’ seventh annual Relaxation Report.

The report found that many people are using their holiday time to get some shut-eye – or to do other necessary chores. About 68% of Americans says they’ve used a vacation day for something other than a holiday, compared to 2015, when only 54% said the same. Many cited reasons like a  family emergencies (37%), doctor’s or dentist’s appointments (36%), sick days for their children or loved ones (31%), home projects (23%) and running household errands (23%).

Sunset Beach Park, O'ahu, Hawaii.
Would you rather go on vacation or get a good night’s sleep. Image by Marco Pompeo Photography

Using that time for something other than holidays may be related to the fact that 43% of Americans say they feel guilty for relaxing, while 91% say they actually look forward to sleeping while they are on vacation. However, it can be hard for many people to actually get the relaxation they need, as more than a third of people with jobs – and 50% of working millennials – feel more stressed while on vacation because they are worried about work.

That finding echoes that of the 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey from Alamo Rent A Car, which reported earlier this year that 59% of working millennials feel guilty when taking time off work, compared to only 41% of people 35 and older.

This could be you using this roadtrip map.
Would you rather hit the road or head to bed? Image by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

But, while some people are using their holiday time to sleep – many Americans aren’t taking any time off at all. Project: Time Off, an initiative designed to encourage a culture that views time off as essential to personal well-being and professional success, reported earlier this year that more than half of workers in the US left some of their holiday time unused in 2015. In total, there were 658 million unused paid vacation days in the US that year – time that many workers will never get back – as about 222 million of those unused days cannot be paid out or used later.

Things are so bad that more than 170 million Americans – or 53% – haven’t taken a vacation in the past 12 months, according to the Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index.