INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — How many people can say they truly get enough sleep on a nightly basis?
Turns out, sleepless nights are a widespread problem among Americans.
A new study out of Ball State University looked at the sleeping habits of 150,000 Americans from 2010 to 2018.
Researchers Jagdish Khubchandani and James Price found a little over a third of Americans (35%) are feeling sleepless on a regular basis. Most adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation, should be getting 7 hours of sleep. Though many average in the 5-6 hour range.
According to the study: “Overall, the prevalence of short sleep duration in working American adults increased significantly from 2010 to 2018 (30.9% in 2010 to 35.6% in 2018).”
Who all this sleeplessness is affecting most is also pretty concerning.
According to the study: “In 2018, the highest levels of short sleep duration were found for the following categories of jobs: protective service and military (50%), healthcare support occupations (45%), transport and material moving (41%), and production occupations (41%). Sleep hygiene education may be especially useful for those in occupations with high rates of short sleep duration.”
Essentially, anyone in a critical job, is not getting nearly enough sleep.
Khubchandani added that the pandemic will only make the problem worse, increasing the amount of sleeplessness in working adult. He adds the toll of continued sleepless nights can lead to serious health problems.
“In the short term, people can have poor reflexes, poor judgement, poor anger management, being impulsive. In the long run, there can be heart disease, obesity, breathing issues.”
Khubchandan adds sleep is the best medicine for a number of health-related problems.
While it’s one thing to just say “we need more sleep,” it’s another thing entirely to actually do it.
When it comes to practicing good sleep habits, experts say many of us are doing it all wrong.
Stephanie Stahl, a sleep physician at IU-Health, highlighted some do’s and don’ts.
The biggest tip is to keep the devices away. A lot of people often use our phone, or an electronic device in bed. However, the blue light that screens emit can keep people up.
Second, Stahl says people should avoid caffeine at least 8 hours before bed.
Third, she recommends taking a least an hour to wind down before you go to sleep. Important to note, the wind down period should be a phoneless, device-less, distraction less (if possible) wind down that allows your body time to prepare its self for sleep.
Finally, Stahl recommends staying out of the bedroom if you can. She adds the practice of staying out of your bedroom during the day is about creating clear boundaries about sleep time.
“You really want to make sure your bedroom is a place for sleep and sleep only. So you don’t want to watch tv in bed, read in bed or really do much other than try to sleep. You want your brain to think when you go into the bedroom, it’s your place to sleep and sleep only,” Stahl said.
If you find yourself having chronic problems with sleeplessness, Stahl says it may be time to seek professional help.