March 9, 2011

Sleepy Americans Too Connected

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ Many Americans report dissatisfaction with their sleep during the week. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) would reply that this is most  likely due to pervasive use of communication technology in the hour before bed, and that a significant number of Americans aren't getting the sleep they say they need and are searching for ways to cope.

The poll found that 43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely or never get a good night's sleep on weeknights. About two-thirds (63%) of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Most say they need about seven and a half hours of sleep to feel their best, but report getting about six hours and 55 minutes of sleep on average weeknights. About 15% of adults between 19 and 64 and 7% of 13-18 year olds say they sleep less than six hours on weeknights.

Communications technology use before sleep is pervasive. Americans report very active technology use in the hour before trying to sleep. Almost everyone surveyed, 95%, uses some type of electronics like a television, computer, video game or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.

"Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour"”making it more difficult to fall asleep," Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, was quoted as saying. "This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need."

Americans are coping with sleepiness by drinking caffeine and taking regular naps. The average person on a weekday drinks about three 12 ounce caffeinated beverages, with little difference between age groups.

Napping is common in all age groups, but the two youngest groups reported slightly more napping during the week.

For the more than a quarter who say their schedules do not allow for adequate sleep, when asked to evaluate the day after getting inadequate sleep, more than eight in ten (85%) said that it affects their mood; almost three-quarters (72%) said it affects their family life or home responsibilities, and about two-thirds (68%) said it affects their social life.

If you are having problems sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation suggests sticking to a sleep schedule, avoid bright light at night, exercise regularly, establish a relaxing bedtime routine, create a comfortable sleeping environment, treat you bed as a way to escape the stress of the day, avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime, don't wear a nightcap, don't take late-afternoon or evening naps, and avoid medicines that promote wakefulness.

"If you're having problems sleeping at night, or if you're feeling too sleepy the next day, take a look at your bedtime habits," Allison Harvey, PhD, behavioral sleep expert at UC Berkeley, was quoted as saying. "Create a relaxing wind-down routine and turn down the lights. Make your bedroom a sanctuary from the worries of your day."

SOURCE: The 2011 Sleep in America® poll released March 7, 2011 by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF)