CDC Study: Adults May Not Get Enough Sleep

Keeping with the mission of National Sleep Awareness Week®, happening from today through March 9, a new four-state study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reports that about 10 percent of adults report not getting enough rest or sleep every day in the past month.

The data from the four states--Delaware, Hawaii, New York, and Rhode Island--may not reflect national trends, CDC says, but an additional study conducted by utilizing data from the National Health Interview Study indicated that across all age groups the percentage of adults who, on average, report sleeping six hours or less has increased from 1985 to 2006.

Nationwide, an estimated 50 to 70 million people suffer from chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders. Sleep loss is associated with health problems, including obesity, depression, and certain risk behaviors, including cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, and heavy drinking.

"It's important to better understand how sleep impacts people's overall health and the need to take steps to improve the sufficiency of their sleep," said Dr. Lela R. McKnight-Eily, the study's lead author and a behavioral scientist in CDC's Division of Adult and Community Health. "There are very few studies to assess and address sleep insufficiencies; therefore, more needs to done to better understand the problem and to develop effective sleep interventions."

The study, titled "Perceived Insufficient Rest or Sleep--Four States, 2006," analyzed data from CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. Among the four states, the percentage of adults who reported not getting enough rest or sleep every day in the past 30 days ranged from 14 percent in Delaware to 8 percent in Hawaii.

People concerned about chronic sleep loss should consult a physician for an assessment and possible treatment, such as behavioral or medical interventions, McKnight-Eily said. They can also try setting a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine or other stimulants before bed, she added.

Variation for insufficient rest and sleep may be due to occupational or lifestyle factors. The causes of sleep loss could include busy schedules or shift work; irregular sleep schedules; or lifestyle factors such as heavy family demands, late-night television watching and Internet use, or the use of caffeine and alcohol, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. The National Sleep Foundation reports that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to feel fully rested while school children aged 5-12 years require 9-11 hours, and adolescents aged 11-17 years require 8.5–9.5 hours each night.

For more information on National Sleep Awareness Week®, visit www.sleepfoundation.org. For more information on CDC's Sleep and Sleep Disorders Program, visit www.cdc.gov/sleep.

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