We re all paying the national sleep debt

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We ve heard it time and time again: We need to get more sleep. But many Americans are still not getting that coveted eight hours a night. A new report from the CDC has quantified the extent of sleep deprivation in the U.S., demonstrating that a significant number of workers in the country suffer from a chronic lack of sleep.

The CDC report analyzed the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NIHS), which asked a nationally representative sample of Americans about their age, ethnicity, marital status, education, and employment, along with questions about sleep habits. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is seven to nine hours daily. But the survey results indicated that, among working adults in the U.S., 30 percent report that they only get six hours of sleep or less each day.

Other factors that increased the likelihood of inadequate amounts of sleep (six hours or less per day) were working a night shift, having more than one job, working in manufacturing, or working more than 40 hours per week. Additionally, Hispanic and white workers were more likely to report getting enough sleep than workers of other races. And people aged 30 to 64 were more likely to lack sufficient sleep than younger adults or older adults.

The effects of chronic sleep deprivation on general health can be serious, including an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, weight gain, and depression not to mention a higher incidence of car accidents, falls, and work absenteeism.

Considering the serious toll that night shifts and other employment-related factors can take on sleeping habits, the CDC recommends that companies employ evidence-based interventions and work schedules to help their workers get enough sleep. ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan heartily agrees: I believe that if company managers knew the extent of health and safety effects that chronic sleep deprivation causes, they would make an effort to develop effective communications and policies to help their employees attain sufficient restorative sleep for their own good and that of the business.