Last updated: 10:30 AM ET, Thu August 11 2016

Report Shows You're Using Your Vacation Days Wrong

Features & Advice | Patrick Clarke | August 11, 2016

Report Shows You're Using Your Vacation Days Wrong

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

Numerous studies have shown that Americans rarely use all of their allotted vacation days. But when they do, many actually waste them sleeping the day away or running errands, according to Princess Cruises' seventh annual Relaxation Report.

Wakefield Research surveyed just over 1,000 American adults last month and found that nearly three-fourths (72 percent) have taken at least one day off of work just to sleep.

What's more, two in five Americans (40 percent) have taken at least five days off over the course of the year to catch some much-needed shut-eye.

But Americans aren't just using their precious vacation time to hit the hay. Many are using that time to scratch items off of their to-do list, with more than two-thirds (68 percent) indicating that they use their vacation time to run errands.

The figure highlights a disturbing trend considering only 54 percent of Americans confessed to doing so in 2015.

READ MORE: Hotels and Resorts Turning to Adult Coloring Books for Ultimate Relaxation

In 2016, family emergencies (37 percent) and doctor's or dentist's appointments (36 percent) are the most common events preventing Americans from using their vacation time properly.

This year's report also shows that guilt and stress are the biggest culprits when it comes to encouraging Americans' bad vacation habits. Forty-three percent of respondents said they feel guilty about relaxing while away from work, while 35 percent feel stressed because they're thinking about work while on vacation.

The result is oftentimes lackluster sleep even while on vacation, with roughly two-thirds of millennials (65 percent) admitting they skip activities on vacation because they're too tired to partake.

READ MORE: Tips for Planning a Tech-Free Vacation

"Sleep and relaxation should be a guilt-free necessity every person should seek in their day," sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus said in a statement accompanying Princess Cruises' report. "We all want to get the sleep we need while on vacation, but sometimes being in a new place and sleeping in an unfamiliar environment will disrupt a good night's sleep."

When it comes to the region best suited to relax away from work, the Midwest reigns, with 67 percent of Americans in that region indicating that they never or rarely ever feel guilty about relaxing. 

Meanwhile, the average across the Northeast, South and West is just 54 percent.

Princess Cruises' report also uncovered that working women (48 percent) tend to feel more guilty than working men (39 percent) about taking time off work to unwind. And while a majority of Americans (52 percent) felt smartphones made it harder to relax away from work in 2014, a majority (53 percent) now feel the devices make it easier to relax. 

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