Americans Work More, Sleep Less

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

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