Sleepy America: Are You Getting Enough Rest at Night?

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Jeffrey L. Jaquish

An estimated 50 to 70 million American adults have a chronic sleep loss or a sleep disorder of some kind. Fully one-third just have bad sleeping habits, getting less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That may be old news to the perpetually sleep-deprived masses, but the consequences of sleeplessness are notable.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. In the CDC’s survey of 74,571 adults from 12 states, 35.3% slept less than that. (More on Why Americans Are Among the Most Sleepless People in the World)

Not too long ago, the U.S. won the dubious distinction of being among the most sleepless nations in the world, and another recent study by AAA found that lack of sleep is putting the public at risk: 2 out of 5 surveyed U.S. drivers admitted to ever having fallen asleep at the wheel.

The CDC’s data suggests a traffic safety issue as well: nearly 5% of surveyed adults reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the past month. What’s more, 38% said they had unintentionally fallen asleep during the day at least once.

Beyond the risks of daytime drowsiness, not getting enough sleep can affect your calorie consumption, mental health and even mortality: a study from Penn State University found that men who slept six hours or less per night were four times more likely to die from any cause over a 14-year follow-up than their counterparts who got at least 7 hours. (More on Lack of Sleep Linked With Depression, Weight Gain and Even Death)

For those who are combating sleeplessness and chronic fatigue, a recent study of elderly adults found that counseling can help you overcome your insomnia. If that’s not an option for you, the National Sleep Foundation provides tips on how to get more zzz’s.