Survey: Americans Look Forward to Good Sleep, Churchgoing

The Barna Group surveyed what Americans look forward to the most and what they dread most. The top answer the study found was most adults simply want a good night of sleep.

Among the top five most appealing activities behind getting good sleep included attending church services. Religious activity was further shown as highly appealing with 31 percent Americans saying they look forward to reading the Bible than the 25 percent who said they look forward to reading a novel for pleasure.

"Among the most common complaints people have are the struggle to cope with the busyness of their lives, the pressure of family and job responsibilities, and their seemingly unquenchable thirst to be entertained,” commented George Barna in the study. "We voluntarily exhaust ourselves and then wonder why life doesn’t seem satisfying. This is one reason why God instituted a day of rest, rather than a day for catching up or gorging on pleasurable activities.”

Appealing activities listed above attending church by over half of the adults included spending time with friends and listening to music. The least appealing activities named were completing tax forms (11 percent), having a physical examination by a doctor (14 percent) and going shopping for clothing (16 percent).

Confirming earlier studies that revealed media as a leading influencer, the survey released Monday found 68 percent of adults said they look forward to watching TV, listening to music, or seeing a movie. For young adults, 76 percent listed at least one of those activities as appealing. One out of every 10 adults listed all three media as things they looked forward to a lot, the study reported.

The survey broke down the population to various people groups to find what appeals to certain groups.

Mosaics (ages 18 to 22) were most likely to say they look forward to movies and music, spending time with friends, shopping for clothing, eating at restaurants, engaging in sports or exercise, and discussing religion with friends.

Baby Busters (ages 23 to 41) were more likely to look forward to visiting far away places and to cook meals, and least likely to want to discuss religious matters with others.

Baby Boomers (ages 42 to 60) found most appealing time working on their yard compared to the other generation groups.

Among age groups, people older than 60 were most attracted to church services with 60 percent saying so. The national average is 40 percent, the study noted. They were also most likely to look forward to reading the Bible, watching TV and having a physical exam by their doctor.

"Young adults are seeking fun and relational experiences. During middle age, people are more likely to focus on self-examination and personal development," noted survey director George Barna. "At the end of the trail, adults return to the simpler joys of life, like gardening, reading and considering their next phase of existence. There does seem to be a season for everything."

People in the Bible Belt, or the South, were found to be more likely than other Americans to look forward to attending church services and to reading the Bible.

Reading novels was high on the appealing activities list for white adults, along with spending time with friends and eating at restaurants. African-Americans, on the other hand, found most appealing religious activities like attending church, reading the Bible and discussing religion. They also said they look forward to watching TV and cooking meals at home. Hispanics were most likely to look forward to listening to music and shopping for clothing.

Evangelicals, who The Barna Group said represent 8 percent of the U.S. adult population, were also most likely among other faith groups to want to attend church, read the Bible, discuss their faith, spend time with friends, eat in a restaurant and participate in sports or exercise. They were least likely to look forward to cooking at home, working on their yard, being examined by a doctor and watching movies. Born again adults are also more interested in participating in faith-related activities and getting a good night of sleep while atheists and agnostics were far from interest in faith-related activities as well as spending time with friends.

People of a non-Christian faith were more likely to look forward to watching movies and less likely to look forward to attending religious services.

The data in the Barna survey are based on interviews done in July 2006 with 1,005 adults from across the nation.