Americans’ Sleep Habits: Losing by Not Snoozing, Says the CDC

More than one-third of Americans sleep less than seven hours a night, and many pay for it the next day. Are you among the walking bleary? Try one of these tricks to get the rest your body craves.

Too many Americans aren’t getting enough sleep — and their minds and bodies are paying the price, according to two new surveys released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). More than one-third of American adults clocked in seven or fewer hours of shut-eye each night. (While individual sleep needs vary, many experts agree the average adult needs between seven and nine hours for optimal health).

A separate report found that a lack of sleep begets major brain fog in many adults. In people who snagged fewer than seven hours of Zzzs each night, 23 percent said they had trouble concentrating, 18 percent claimed difficulty remembering things, 13 percent said it affected their hobbies, and 11 percent had issues driving or taking public transportation.

Nearly 38 percent of people unintentionally dozed off during the day and — scarily — almost 5 percent said they did so behind the wheel.

Study authors attribute the sleep starvation trend at least partially to more technology use — think 2 A.M. text messages — and shift work. Snoring, a major symptom of sleep apnea, may also play a sleep-stealing role, at least for spouses. Almost half of those polled reported snoring.

Move Sleep to the Top of Your To-Do List

By now, you’ve probably heard the slew of ways your health suffers when you don’t get enough slumber — including a greater risk of obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and type 2 diabetes — not to mention slumping energy levels, decreased immunity, and drab skin and dark under-eye circles.

But even if you think you’re managing fine on your current sleep regimen, you may not be. Some people are so sleep-deprived, they may not even realize it — and making up for a sleep debt isn’t necessarily something you can accomplish in a weekend.

By Sharon Tanenbaum – Medically reviewed by Ed Zimney, MD