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You Won't Believe These Sleep Facts

How often do you deprive yourself of sleep? If you're like most people, it's probably almost every day. You go to bed too late trying to squeeze as much out of every day as you can and you wake up earlier than you'd like But, did you know humans are the only species that willingly deprives themselves of sleep? It's true. And it's not good. Read on to understand why and to learn some other unbelievable sleep facts.

  • Humans can survive longer without food than they can without sleep. Lauber, Patricia.What You Never Knew about Beds, Bedrooms, & Pajamas. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008.
  • The average amount of time people sleep has dropped from nine hours in the pre-lightbulb era to seven-and-a-half hours today. Nadelson, Carol C., ed. Sleep Disorders. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001.
  • 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder. American Sleep Association.
  • 35.3% adults reported getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a typical night. American Sleep Association. 

    • The amount of people reporting getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night has increased 35% since 1977. 

    • Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, is likely present in 5% to 15% of the US population, with ~30% reporting significant symptoms at any given time. 

    • Sleep apnea, another common sleep disorder defined as at least 5 respiratory events (apnea or hypopnea) per hour of sleep on average, has an estimated prevalence of 27% to 34% among men 30 to 70 years of age and 9% to 28% among women in the same age group. 

    • According to a number of epidemiological studies, the prevalence of insomnia symptoms in the previous year ranges from 30% to 45%. 

    • 48.0% report snoring.

    • 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month. 

    • 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month. 

    • Insomnia also can keep you from performing your best at school or work. One study estimated that an employee with insomnia loses about eight days of work performance each year. For the entire U.S. workforce, this adds up to an estimated $63 billion in lost work performance due to insomnia each year.

    • According to the results of NSF's 2008 Sleep in America poll, 36 percent of American drive drowsy or fall asleep while driving.

    • 60% of people crave sleep more than sex.

    • NHTSA data indicate that in recent years there have been about 56,000 crashes annually in which driver drowsiness/fatigue was cited by police.

    • In 2015, over 72,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. These crashes led to 41,000 injuries and more than 800 deaths. However, there is broad consensus across the traffic safety, sleep science, and public health communities that this is an underestimate of the impact of drowsy driving. The broader community’s best estimate of drowsy-driving crashes is that 7 percent of all crashes and 16.5 percent of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. This estimate suggests that approximately 6,000 people died in drowsy-driving related motor vehicle crashes across the United States last year. This study performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (Tefft, 2012) used a statistical multiple imputation process to estimate drowsy driving incidence in the NHTSA NASS Crashworthiness Data System (CDS). Some researchers feel this may still be an underestimate and that there may be more than 8,000 deaths attributable to drowsy driving each year. 

    • Drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the United States. 

    • 25 Million U.S. adults have obstructive sleep apnea. 

    • 9-21% of women have obstructive sleep apnea. 

    • 24-31% of men have obstructive sleep apnea. 

    • 3–5% of the overall proportion of obesity in adults could be attributable to short sleep. 

    • Furthermore, analysis of 7 studies that examined linear relationships between sleep duration and body mass index as a continuous variable showed that for every increased hour of sleep, body mass index was reduced by 0.35 points. Cappuccio FP, Taggart FM, Kandala NB, Currie A, Peile E, Stranges S, Miller MA. Meta-analysis of short sleep duration and obesity in children and adults. Sleep. 2008;31:619–626.

    • Snoring is the primary cause of sleep disruption for approximately 90 million American adults; 37 million on a regular basis.

    • According to the CDC, people that get less than 7 hours of sleep a night are:
      • 41% more likely to have a heart attack
      • 38% more likely to have coronary heart disease
      • 50% more likely to have a stroke
      • 40% more likely to have asthma
      • 83% more likely to have COPD
      • 4% more likely to have cancer
      • 40% more likely to have arthritis
      • 57% more likely to have depression
      • 50% more likely to have chronic kidney disease
      • 30% more likely to have diabetes
      • 24% more likely to be obese

    • 37% of 20-39 year-olds report short sleep duration. 

    • 40% of 40-59 year-olds report short sleep duration. 

    • Nearly half of us are getting just six hours sleep or less a night. And an alarming four out of five people complain of disturbed or inadequate – or ‘toxic’ – sleep. (Sleep Council ‘Toxic Sleep’ survey, January 2011)

    • One study published last year showed that just one week of sleeping fewer than six hours a night resulted in changes to more than 700 genes.

    • 100,000 deaths occur each year in US hospitals due to medical errors and sleep deprivation have been shown to make a significant contribution. 

    • A good night’s sleep could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The sleep hormone, melatonin, works by breaking down the body’s active and energetic hormones which slows brain activity and aids sleep but it is also believed that the antioxidant abilities could help reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The hormone, made by the pineal gland in the brain, can only be produced in darkness. (Washington University School of Medicine 2012)

    • Studies from the University of Laval in Quebec show that people who had less than 7 hours sleep or more than 8 had two and a half times the risk of type 2 diabetes or glucose intolerance. (2009) This was backed up with research that showed people who get five or fewer hours of sleep a night are five times more likely to contract diabetes than those who get over seven. (Asahikawa University and Hokkaido University, 2012)

    • Being awake for 16 hours decreases your performance as much as if your blood alcohol level were 0.05%. (The legal limit is 0.08%.)

    • Stroke risk quadruples. Research presented at the SLEEP 2012 conference suggested that getting fewer than six hours a night can ratchet up stroke risk for middle- and older-aged people. “These people sleeping less than six hours had a four times increased risk of experiencing these stroke symptoms compared to their normal weight counterparts that were getting seven to eight hours,” study researcher Megan Ruiter, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told HuffPost at the time.

    • Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which includes sleep apnea, is another serious threat to health. SDB is characterized by intermittent airway obstruction or pauses in breathing. People with untreated SDB have 2 to 4 times the risk of heart attack and stroke.

    • A lack of sleep among the U.S. workforce is costing approximately $411 billion and losing 1.2 million working days per year. 

    • Each year, sleep-related errors and accidents cost U.S. businesses an estimated $56 billion, cause nearly 25,000 deaths, and result in 2.5 million disabling injuries. Thorpy, Michael and Jan Yager. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Sleep Disorders. 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc, 2001.

    • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that being tired accounts for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes—even more than alcohol. Thorpy, Michael and Jan Yager. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Sleep Disorders. 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc, 2001.  

    • Simply thinking you got better sleep makes your brain work better (placebo sleep). 


    Better Sleep Catch Up on Sleep Sleep Facts

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