First and foremost, even though getting enough sleep is good for health, recent surveys show that a large percentage of the US population is not getting enough sleep.
In fact, researchers recently reported that, in 2017, nearly 33 percent of Americans slept six hours or less. First, people gave worrying about economic insecurity as one reason for staying up. Next, people gave working longer hours for less money as another reason for staying up. Also, people said they were working harder for less money. Finally, people said they were working longer hours because their jobs weren’t secure.
Furthermore, it appears that Hispanic and Black Americans showed the largest increase in inadequate sleep compared to a previous survey from 2013. In fact, the number of black study participants who said they slept less than six hours rose from 35 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2016, an increase of seven percent.
On the other hand, Hispanics who said they slept less than six hours raised from 26 percent in 2004 to 33 percent in 2016, also an increase of seven percent.
Finally, among people of European ancestry, the numbers increased from 29 percent in 2004 to 31 percent in 2016, an increase of two percent.
Now, the higher numbers in all three population groups may mean people’s lives are getting worse.
By the way, the study was based on data collected from nearly 400,000 adults aged 18 to 84 who took part in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey. In the survey, the adults were asked how many hours they slept each night.
More Survey Results
Meanwhile, the National Sleep Foundation’s annual sleep survey reported that only 46 percent of the poorest sleepers were very effective at getting things done each day.
In addition, the survey reported that participants gave sleep only ten percent priority of all the things they do in a day. In the meantime, their higher priorities included fitness, nutrition, work, hobbies and other interests. While, only, social life had a lower priority than sleep.
Constant Flow of News
Most of all, people are glued to their cellphones or laptops, reading the latest news, following Twitter, and Facebook. As a result, they are seeing disasters and political news from all over the world, delivered, almost instantly, right to devices in their hands.
Now, 20 or plus years ago, people would get this information on their radio, TV or the newspaper. Consequently, they had time to absorb the news. However, today they get this constant near real time flow of news. As a result, the constantly streaming bad news creates anxiety and stress, which causes the hormone cortisol levels to go up, exactly when levels need to go down to fall asleep.
Finally, people are staying up binge watching TV or movies on their tablets, laptops, or desktops. Regrettably, exposure to blue light just prior to sleep makes it even more difficult to fall asleep.
By the way, studies by Harvard researchers show the consequences of using blue light devices one or two hours before bed.
- First, falling asleep is delayed by at least ten minutes.
- Second, blue light messes up and delays the circadian clock rhythm. In fact, artificial light at night, especially the blue light from cell phones and screens, confuses the brain and messes up the circadian clock.
- Also, blue light suppresses melatonin secretion when you need it most. By the way, the hormone melatonin plays a key role in maintaining a proper circadian rhythm and promoting deep, restorative sleep. In fact, the blue light emitted from cell phone screens, shining directly in the eyes, suppresses production of this crucial hormone in the evening.
- In addition, blue light decreases your Rapid Eye Motion or REM sleep. Now, REM sleep is a stage of sleep that is critical for restoration of your mind and body. Furthermore, REM sleep solidifies memories and is tied to your creative and problem-solving skills. So, if you don’t get enough REM sleep, it can leave you feeling groggy and difficulty concentrating the next day.
- Next, blue light makes you more alert exactly when you want to wind down. In fact, research shows that blue light wakes you up, making you feel more alert, less sleepy, and more likely to delay even trying to go to sleep.
- Finally, you will feel more tired, exhausted, and less alert when you wake up in the morning. In fact, according to the Harvard study, reading from screens, before sleeping, causes you to feel sleepy and groggy when you wake up in the morning.
One of the key takeaways from the survey is that more Americans are not sleeping the recommended seven to eight hours. As a result, the sleep deprived face adverse health effects along with harming relationships and making work difficult.
So, one of the most obvious remedies is to avoid blue light emitting devices at least in the hour before bedtime. While, the other is get regular exercise. Now, going to the gym or spending time dedicated to exercising may not be an option for those with a very busy lifestyle. For them, a way to exercise while simultaneously doing something else they need to do would be a benefit.