Americans Work More, Sleep Less

March 30, 2001
A majority of American adults don't get the\r\nrecommended eight hours of sleep needed for good health, safety and\r\noptimum performance, according to a new survey.

If you are working more and sleeping less, you are not alone, according to a survey released this week by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

Sleep deprivation continues to be widespread. According to an NSF poll, a majority of American adults (36 percent) don''t get the recommended eight hours of sleep needed for good health, safety and optimum performance.

This year''s poll also shows that more than one-third of Americans say they get less sleep now than five years ago.

More than eight out of 10 respondents said they would sleep more if they knew they could be healthier, perform in a safer way and avoid injuries, and could improve their memory.

"The 2001 Sleep in America poll shows good news and bad news," said Richard Gelula, NSF''s executive director. "The good news is that many Americans say they don''t want to give up any more sleep in spite of their hectic lives. And they would sleep more if they were convinced it would contribute to their quality of life. The bad news is far too many adults still sacrifice sleep, which is unhealthy and counter-productive. Americans must make time for sleep."

According to NSF Vice President Dr. James Walsh, there is a direct relationship between hours worked and its negative impact on sleep.

"This is particularly noticeable for people working more than 40 hours per week," said Walsh. "A secondary effect of long hours worked is the sleepiness people feel during the hours they intend to be awake."

If people are zombies during the day, those extra hours at work may not be the most productive, though.

The survey found that about one in five adults experience daytime sleepiness that interferes with daily activities several times a week.

"People have to recognize that there are downsides to sleep deprivation," said Gelula.

Some of these downsides can be more serious than unproductive days at work.

More than half of survey participants said they had driven while drowsy during the past year and 19 percent admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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