Sleepiness: A yawning chasm for working Americans

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Did we need to take a poll to find out how well America sleeps at night? Probably not, but the results of the poll offer a worrisome picture about our problems getting a good night’s sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation, the poll sponsor, reports three-quarters of adults say they frequently have a sleep problem, such as waking during the night or snoring. The average adult gets less than the recommended seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. This leads to poorer health, lower productivity on the job, more danger on the roads and a less vibrant sex life. One-fourth admit their sleep problems do have an impact on their daily lives.

Becky Mcerien, 50, in Philadelphia, told a reporter "By 3 to 4 in the afternoon, I'm starting to feel brain-drained and I need that caffeine to pick me back up again,"

But Guillermo Sardina, 55, of Hamilton, N.J., said "I sleep through the night. I'm a sound sleeper. I don't even remember my dreams." He averages six or seven hours a night.

Darwin McCallian, 51, of Burke, Va., rises at 4 a.m. to get a jump on traffic for his commute to Washington, DC. He usually gets six to eight hours of sleep.

"When I sleep in a little bit longer, it makes me a safer driver," McCallian noted.

Sleep Foundation CEO, Richard Gelula, said the link between sleep and quality of life is strong. It affects professional relationships and takes a serious toll on personal interactions and intimacies:

  • Six in 10 adult motorists said they have driven while drowsy in the past year; 4 percent reported that they have had an accident or near-accident because they were too tired or actually fell asleep while driving.
  • Three-fourths said their partner has a sleep problem, and the most common is snoring.
  • Roughly one-fourth of respondents who have partners report that their sexual relationship has been hurt because they have been too sleepy. They had sex less often or lost interest in having sex because they were too tired.
  • Seven in 10 people said their doctor has never asked them about their sleep.

They recommend avoiding alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime, and that adults pay attention to how much sleep they get as well as the quality of that sleep, and seek help if needed.

    • Polling Information: conducted by WB&A Market Research
    • 1,506 adults interviewed by phone
    • Dates: between Sept. 20 and Nov. 7, 2004
    • Margin of error plus or minus 2.5 percentage points


See also

Wikipedia article on sleep