Sleepless in America: Health dangers of less than 8 hr/night sleep

Americans are sleep deprived. No one seems to be getting “enough” sleep, which scientists say should be 8 hours a night.
Not only is chronic sleep deprivation hazardous — a contributing factor to traffic accidents — not getting enough sleep is also injurious to our health.
counting-sheep
Emily Yahr reports for the Washington Post, on the findings of the 2-hour “Sleepless in America,” a collaboration by NatGeo, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and The Public Good Projects:
1. 40% of American adults are sleep-deprived: The average American sleeps less than 7 hours per night during the week, including 70% of adolescents.
2. Reasons for Americans not getting enough sleep:

  • Our constantly moving, overstimulated 24/7 society with so much technology and gadgetry that distracts everyone all the time.
  • Overwork results in people not have enough time to do the things they want during the week. As a result, they stay up even later on weekends so they can compensate.

3. Sleep is “just as important as good nutrition, physical activity and wearing your seatbelt”: Mark Rosekind, member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said: “Every aspect of who you are as a human, every capability is degraded, impaired, when you lose sleep. What does that mean? Your decision-making, reaction time, situational awareness, memory, communication, and those things go down by 20% to 50%.”
4. Health effects of sleeping less than 7 hours a night include an increased risk for:

  • Obesity: An NIH study reduced subjects’ sleep to 4 hours a night and saw the impact on their weight. Turns out, sleeplessness increases an appetite for fatty foods, and the study showed that “short sleepers” consume 500 more calories a day than people who get enough sleep.
  • Diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease: When you sleep, the brain clears out toxic chemicals — and one of the proteins that accumulates in the brain while you’re awake is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Cancer  
  • Mental diseases: Almost all mental illnesses have associated sleep problems, experts say. In fact, sleep deprivation is nearly universal in every psychiatric condition, from bipolar disorder to anxiety disorders. Studies show that high school students who sleep more have higher test scores and lower rates of depression

5. The good news is that sleep can “inspire creativity, re-balance emotions, help refresh cardiovascular health, metabolic health and boost our immune system.”
So make getting 8 hours of sleep a night a priority!
counting sheep
~Eowyn

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0 responses to “Sleepless in America: Health dangers of less than 8 hr/night sleep

  1. Very worthwhile information. It is truly important to get adequate rest,
    especially in times of stress. Although that may not always be possible,
    it is indeed desirable

     
  2. This is interesting, I’m 68 now and have had sleep problems my entire life, but doctors just shrug it off. I get from 1/2 to 2-3 hours of sleep a night broken up by urinary and diverticulosis problems, mixed with extremely high stress.
    one doctor prescribed Ambien then Lunesta about 10 years ago which almost killed me. For some reason I cannot tolerate any mind altering substance. All that sleep aids did was cause horrible night terrors and blackouts. Now I basically survive on 0 to 2-3 hours a night broken up about 10-15 times, but I seem to be alert and awake most of the day
    I have a sneaky suspicion that a lot of my sleep trouble is from severe abuse I had as a child. Some well meaning evangelical bible believers claim they have a word of knowledge that my problems are due to “demon possession”, claiming that over 90% of all illness is from demon possession. I have no love for these people. I remember mentioning the alternate theory of demon possession almost got me a free stay in the psych ward. Most doctors here look at spiritual stuff as the rantings of loonies.
    Anyway, thanks for an interesting article, some food for thought that will probably keep me awake nights 🙂

     
    • Art, I will keep you in my prayers for some restful sleep to come your way. I’m sorry for what you had to endure as a child but you seem to be a wonderful man despite it all. Sweet dreams😴

       
    • art,
      have you had a sleep study?…it sounds like you might have sleep apnea. Also, melatonin really helps to put one in a restful mood for quality sleep. Praying for you.

       
  3. Man, I know this firsthand. I’ve been sleep deprived for years.

     
  4. Thanks for an insightful article on health and sleep, Dr. Eowyn. One of the reasons I usually stay away from Alex Jones is difficulty falling asleep. The same goes for FoxNews. Have you noticed that there is no such thing as a News Story on Fox; everything is “BREAKING NEWS ALERT!!!” even when it’s just about some celebrity changing their hair color. 😀

     
  5. Thanks for the great article. I vary between seven and eight. I’m a night owl, too.

     
  6. Art and others on this forum: Sleep Apnea could be the issue. May I suggest that you consider having a sleep study done? You may benefit greatly from a CPAP machine. Leeann

     
    • Ditto, Leeann and MomOfIV.
      To Art, Mike, and anyone with sleep problems:
      Please get a sleep study done for sleep apnea. My husband finally did that, and was diagnosed as having a severe, even life-threatening case of sleep apnea. He now sleeps with a device, and finally is getting some decent hours of sleep.

       
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