Did you sleep well last night? If not, you’re not alone. Over a third of Americans are not getting sufficient sleep. A recent study published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 35% of Americans are not sleeping the recommended 7 hours per night. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability and memory loss, affect job performance and contribute to more serious health problems. Sleeping more may seem like an obvious solution, but for many Americans the issue is more complicated.
The CDC wants Americans to learn about the importance of getting a good night’s rest. “Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters and medical and other occupational errors,” they warn. “Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.” To address the importance of sleep and monitor American sleeping habits, the CDC has increased data collection through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. Since 2008, they have included questions on perceived sleep patterns and sleep behavior. The increased data have opened a window into American sleeping habits.
Sleep quality is part of the problem. Nearly half of Americans report that sleep troubles cause problems in their daily life at least once a week. In the 2014 Sleep Health Index, a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 35% of Americans surveyed said their sleep was “Only fair” or “poor”. Respondents were sleeping longer than the recommended seven hours, though. These Americans may be getting the right quantity of sleep, but not the right quality. Sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea account for some of the sleeplessness, but only 17% of respondents had been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Although some Americans suffer from sleep apnea and don’t even know it – it’s under diagnosed in our country – there must be other reasons why so many people aren’t sleeping well.
Credit National Sleep Foundation
Some of the causes of sleeplessness are easier to control. Poor sleep hygiene, lack of bedtime routine and inadequate sleeping arrangements also can lead to a rough night. If you want to sleep better, it’s important to go to bed at a regular time. Too much caffeine before bed, eating before sleeping and watching TV or exercising too close to bedtime can make it difficult to settle in. Instead, set up a relaxing routine of quiet pre-bed activity, and follow it as frequently as possible.
Also important is making sure your bed and pillow are comfortable to help reduce restlessness and provide stable support; consultant an expert to get the right product for you. Also, ensure that the sleeping area is darkened and free of unnecessary distractions; the bedroom is not a great place to keep your work or anything else that might make you tense. Treat sleep like what it is: one of the easiest ways you can relieve aches and pains, and improve your health, productivity and mood.
According to a National Geographic survey, stress can be a leading cause of inability to sleep. In fact, 54% of respondents said stress kept them awake. Meditation, regular physical activity, journaling and listening to calming music can all reduce stress and improve sleep. For some people, managing stress throughout the day in order to be able to relax and sleep can be as important as eating a proper diet; constant maintenance of good habits leads to better sleep.
In a culture that praises productivity and being busy and de-emphasizes sleep, it can be difficult to remember how important sleep really is. However, each of us will be healthier, more active, better at our jobs and in our lives if we can manage to commit to this mantra: sleep well!