Tough for Many to Get Enough
More than a third of U.S. adults sleep less than seven hours a night, and many of them report troubles concentrating, remembering and even driving.
Medical studies have related a lack of sleep to health problems and cognitive impairment. It is typically recommended that adults get seven to nine hours sleep. A Gallup poll showed that 59% of U.S. adults meet that standard, but in 1942, 84% did. That means four in 10 Americans get less than the recommended amount of nightly sleep, compared with the 11% who did so 70 years ago.
Regardless of what the some recommend and the number of hours of sleep people actually get, 56% of Americans say they get as much sleep as needed, while 43% say they would feel better if they got more sleep.
In a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, drowsiness or falling asleep during driving causes up to 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries annually.
The CDC also examined the effect of sleep deprivation on the ability to perform routine activities. Subjects who slept fewer than seven hours were more likely to have trouble concentrating, have memory difficulties, or became so sleepy during the day that performing well at work was difficult. These issues were less common compared with people who got seven to nine hours of sleep a night, according to the researchers. Increasing nightly sleep duration would likely improve everyday functioning, they added.
Chronic lack of sleep loss may also be a factor of obesity and other health problems.
So, how much sleep do we need?
Sleep experts say that there is no "magic number" of how many hours we all need. Sleep needs are individual. The amount of sleep you may need to function at your best may be different for you than for someone who is of a similar age and gender. While you may be at the top of your game after sleeping seven hours per night, someone else may need nine hours to have a happy, productive life.
Those in all age groups are dealing with this lack of sleep by consuming caffeinated drinks, up to about three 12-ounce beverages per person per day, and taking naps, sometimes more than one during the day. This makes it harder to recover the lost sleep during the next night.
Contrary to common myth, our need for sleep doesn't decline with as we age, but our ability to sleep for 6 to 8 hours at one time may be reduced.
Being older doesn't mean you have to feel tired all the time. There are many things you can do to help you get a good night's sleep.
To improve sleep duration and quality, people should maintain a consistent sleep schedule and avoid stimulating activities like exercise close to bedtime. A bedroom should be comfortable and quiet, creating a good sleep environment.
Excessive exposure to artificial light sources before bedtime may increase alertness and suppress the release of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone.
The tradition of watching television nightly before going to bed, checking electronic correspondence or playing video games before turning in for the night could be interfering with the country's sleep quality.
Almost 95% of those responding to a study indicated that they used some form of electronics during the hour before going to bed, and almost two-thirds admitted they do not get sufficient sleep during the week.
Baby boomers watch the most television before going to sleep, and over a third of 13-18 year-olds and 28% of young adults 19-29 year olds played video games before bedtime.Over 60% indicated that they were on their computer at night.
The need to stay in constant touch means that people leave their devices on all the time, and are being awakened by cellphones, texts and emails during the night.
Separate from exercise, spending less time sitting may improve sleep quality and health. Those who sit for less than eight hours per day sitting are significantly more likely to say they have "very good" sleep quality than those who sit for eight hours or more.
Here are some good tips:
- Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night.
- Keep your bedroom dark, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
- Exercise at regular times each day but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.
- Make an effort to get outside in the sunlight each day.
A Natural Solution
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