Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why we're sleeping less - CNN.com

CNN has a story up about the lack of sleep that is prevalent among Americans.

A new poll finds that Americans are sleeping less because of economic stress and demands of modern life. A new poll finds that Americans are sleeping less because of economic stress and demands of modern life.

Lack of sleep is usually thought to be a contributing factor to anxiety and panic attacks. Anyone wanting to treat their panic attacks are usually encouraged to start getting more sleep in the daily lives. Looks like that might be increasing difficult to achieve given the state of the economy and the increased amount of stress.

According to a recent poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, Americans are only getting a little over six and a half hours of sleep each night, compared to the recommended eight hour minimum. There has been a steady decrease in the amount of sleep Americans are getting each night for the past several years.

Over the last decade, the poll indicates that a growing percentage of Americans is getting less than six hours of sleep and the number of people who get eight or more hours is dwindling. "In the last few years, we've seen the economy take a nose dive, and more people are affected by that," said Dr. Raj Kakar, a medical director at the Dallas Center for Sleep Disorders. "More people are stressed. Stress is associated with sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. The economy is a major factor why people are losing sleep."

Aside from worries over the economy, there are several other factors that seem to be contributing to the decreasing amount of sleep we are getting each night. Entertainment, Internet, playing games or TV were listed as contributing factors. It just seems there is more to do today than there was in the past. It was pointed out that in the past, most people slept eight to nine hours a night.

Not getting to recommended amount of sleep each night can lead to serious health conditions.

Doctors warn about the effects of sleep deprivation, such as car accidents, depression, anxiety and cardiovascular problems. Doctors recommend seven to eight hours a day.

On of the doctors from the center went on to compare sleep deprivation to chronic alcoholism.

"When you're chronically drunk, you can't tell when you're drunk," he said "If you're chronically sleep deprived, you can't tell when you're sleepy. You lose the ability to detect how tired you are. It's not unusual to fall asleep behind the wheel."

There does seem to be some disagreement on just how much sleep Americans are actually getting. Reports from the US Census Bureau report an average of 8.6 hours a night, although this difference can be attributed to differences in the way the studies were conducted.

The Sleep Foundation's annual findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,000 people in which the participants are asked to estimate the number of hours they usually sleep. Meanwhile, the government's time use surveys ask people to detail hour-by-hour how they spent the previous day. Between 2003 and 2005, about 37,000 people were surveyed. The time use surveys may overestimate sleep, because sleeplessness such as insomnia, tossing and turning and lying awake are categorized as sleep, said Dr. Chris Drake, clinical psychologist at Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit, Michigan. "You may actually sleep four hours, but you're in bed for eight hours," said Drake, who is a board member with the National Sleep Foundation. "They're counting that as eight hours of sleep." Health Library

No matter the results, one thing seems clear. Americans are definitely worried over the current economic situation, and that in and of itself is something many are loosing sleep over.

Why we're sleeping less - CNN.com

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