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Many Americans Not Getting Enough Sleep


Approximately 50 to 70 million American adults suffer from sleep disorders, and a new report issued in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, found that one in nine American adults claim lack of sleep on a regular basis.

In a telephone survey of over 400,000 Americans throughout the United States, only one-third say they got adequate sleep, quantified as at least seven hours per night, during the previous month. 11% responded that they did not get the minimum recommended amount of sleep at any time during the past 30 days.

The survey was part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System project of the CDC and includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three island territories.

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There were some notable trends in the survey among gender, ethnicity, and education levels. Women were more likely than men to suffer from sleep disorders, and blacks were less likely to get enough sleep compared to other ethnic groups. Those with less education tend to sleep less than those who were college graduates. Those over 65 were more likely to be satisfied with their sleeping patterns than those who were younger – those between the ages of 25 to 34 reporting the least amount of sleep.

Geographical differences in sleep patterns were also noted. Southeastern states were most typically noted to have less sleep, with West Virginia residents receiving the least - 19.3 percent indicating difficulties. North Dakota residents were among those who reported adequate sleep in 93% of survey respondents from that state. The CDC researchers identified several other factors predicting poor sleep: unemployment, inability to work, rotating or extended shifts, lack of college education, and a terminated spousal relationship (by divorce, separation, or death). There were also links to medical comorbidities, such as depression and obesity, known to affect sleep.

Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night results in greater alertness, better work performance and better quality of life. Lack of sleep has been tied to mental distress, depression, anxiety, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and work problems, such as performance issues and reduced productivity. The main causes of sleep loss reported in the study included lifestyle, occupation, and specific sleep disorders, such as insomnia.

According to the CDC, if you are having trouble sleeping, seek the help of a physician or sleep specialist. Other methods for getting better quality sleep, include:
· Keep a regular sleep schedule.
· Avoid stimulating activities for two hours before bedtime.
· Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the evening.
· Sleep in a dark, quiet, well-ventilated room.
· Avoid going to bed hungry.
· Sleep medications can be helpful for some

Sources Include: Centers for Disease Control and National Center on Sleep Disorders and Research