Getting Enough Sleep?

by Kimberly Vanderpoel on February 25th, 2016

35% of U.S. adults do not get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep continues to be a problem in the U.S. 

Are you one of those adults? Learn more about your risk and how many adults don’t get enough sleep in the U.S.

How much sleep do we need and what can happen when we’re not getting enough?

Sleep is an important part of good health. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is linked to increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and poor mental health, as well as early death. Not getting the recommended amount of sleep can affect your ability to make good decisions and increases the chances of motor vehicle crashes.

According to professional sleep societies, adults aged 18 to 60 years should sleep at least 7 hours each night for the best health and wellness.

How much sleep are we getting?

About 1 in 3 (an estimated 83 million) U.S. adults reported usually sleeping less than 7 hours in a 24-hour period, based on data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey that was done in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Not getting enough sleep is a problem that affects a large number of Americans. If you are not getting enough sleep, you should make sleep a priority and practice good sleep habits. You should also talk to your healthcare provider about how much sleep you get and any other sleep problems you might have.

Who is at higher risk for not getting enough sleep?

Everyone is at risk of not getting enough sleep, but the risk is higher for shift workers. Shift work— any shift outside normal daylight hours, such as night shift, evening shift, or rotating shift — is more common for some occupations:

  • Medical professionals (doctors and nurses)
  • Emergency response workers
  • Transportation industry workers (truck drivers)
  • Workers in the manufacturing, hospitality, or retail industriesSome habits that can improve your sleep health.

How can you get healthy sleep?

  • Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
  • Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
  • Avoid tobacco/nicotine
  • Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
  • Keep a journal of your sleep patterns to discuss with your doctor.
  • If you still have trouble sleeping, discuss your sleep with your doctor. Before your appointment, keep a 10-day sleep journal or diary to share with your doctor that includes when you:
  1. Go to bed
  2. Fall asleep
  3. Wake up
  4. Get out of bed
  5. Take naps
  6. Exercise
  7. Drink alcohol
  8. Consume caffeine-containing beverages

If you have symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as snoring or being very sleepy during the day after a full night’s sleep, make sure to tell your doctor.



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