Feeling tired? Worn down? Welcome to the club – an increasing number of Americans are getting less sleep than they need each night. The impact of poor sleep can impact our personal health and increase the chances of safety issues across all 50 states. Let’s take a look at why Americans are so tired and what we can do to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
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Our infographic confirms what many of us already know – Americans are very tired. Across the nation, significant chunks of our population report getting less than 5 hours of sleep each night, a number far under the recommended amount of sleep health experts recommend.
The survey below included 2,500 participants whose ages range from 18 to over 65. While this is a small sample of a much larger national population, the numbers are supported by larger bodies of research on sleep. The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) reports that one-third of adults are getting less sleep than they should each night. All of these statistics highlight an already growing concern over sleep deprivation.
How Much Sleep Should I Be Getting?
The number of hours of recommended sleep varies by age. According to the CDC, here’s the recommended amount of sleep people should get during each 24-hour cycle, sorted by age:
- Newborn (0–3 months): 14 to 17 hours
- Infant (4–12 months): 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
- Toddler (1–2 years): 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- Preschool (3–5 years): 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- School Age (6–12 years): 9 to 12 hours
- Teen (13–18 years): 8 to 10 hours
- Adult (18–60 years): 7 or more hours per night
- Adult (61–64 years): 7 to 9 hours
- Older adults (65 years and older): 7 to 8 hours
Yawning, feelings of restlessness, irritability and an increase in the number of mistakes at work or home are all signs that a person needs more sleep. Failing to get enough quality sleep consistently can lead to sleep deprivation.
What’s Keeping Americans Awake?
There is no one singular reason why Americans are failing to get enough sleep. Some individuals may be struggling with undiagnosed sleep disorders that are keeping them awake. Others are dealing with long and stressful days at work, which leads to anxiety about the next day as they lay awake in bed at night.
Experts also believe increased exposure to light, either from external sources or time spent on our phones and TV in bed, are all contributing to our lack of sleep.
We can’t forget comfort, either. Those sleeping on a mattress longer than seven years or own a mattress that has visible signs of damage like stains or sagging may want to consider purchasing a new mattress to stay comfortable. Waking up stiff and sore with nothing to attribute it to might mean the mattress is no longer performing as it should.
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Tips For Getting Better Sleep
First and foremost it’s worth a check-in with a physician or health care expert for those who are experiencing symptoms of sleep deprivation and cannot fall or stay asleep no matter how hard they try. Sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea, is highly underdiagnosed but treatable.
Following good “sleep hygiene” guidelines can also help to ensure a good night’s rest. Here are some tips:
- Plan to go bed and wake up at the same time every day — even on weekends to help establish an internal sleep rhythm
- Create a dark, quiet and cool sleep environment
- Invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows, and bedding that provides pressure relief and the ability to achieve neutral spinal alignment.
- Turn off smartphones and TV well before bedtime.
- Set a caffeine cut-off time in the early afternoon.
- Establish a bedtime routine that will signal your body when it’s time to sleep.
Failing to get enough sleep puts a person at an increased risk for serious health conditions like Type 2 diabetes and obesity and also increases the risk of sleep-deprived mistakes that can affect more than just a single person. Sleep is a vitally important component of a healthy lifestyle and should be treated as such. Work on getting more (and better) sleep and see the results pay off.