By Kate Bass BSc
A large study of US adults, conducted collaboratively by state health departments and the CDC, has shown that over a third of the population are regularly not getting enough sleep. This is the first study to obtain self-reported estimates of sleep duration for all 50 US states and the District of Columbia.
Adults aged adults aged 18–60 years need at least 7 hours sleep per night to optimize health and performance. Sleeping less than this on a regular basis is associated with an increased risk of developing obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and mental distress.
The study asked almost 450,000 US adults (aged ≥18 years), through random-digit–dialed telephone calls, how much sleep they got each night. The information collected during these telephone interviews was analyzed by researchers at Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
They found that the proportion of people who routinely had a healthy sleep duration was state-dependent, ranging from 56% in Hawaii to 72% in South Dakota. A cluster of states in southeastern USA were shown to have fewest adults regularly sleeping at least 7 hours per day. Interestingly, previous studies showed these regions to be associated with the highest prevalence of obesity and other chronic conditions.
The prevalence of healthy sleep duration also varied by ethnicity, being better among non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics and Asians and lower among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, non-Hispanic blacks and multiracial non-Hispanics.
In addition, the study reported that married people were more likely to have a healthy sleep duration than those who were divorced, widowed, or separated (67% vs 56%). Among people who had never married, 62% regularly had a healthy ≥7-hour sleep each day.
Higher education and being employed were associated with a high prevalence of healthy sleep duration, whereas being unemployed or unable to work were associated with a lower prevalence of healthy sleep duration.
Wayne Giles, director of the Division of Population Health at CDC, commented “As a nation we are not getting enough sleep...Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.”
These new data, showing that few US adults are getting the recommended amount of sleep each night, suggest that healthcare providers should increase their focus on patients’ sleep patterns and educate patients about the importance of getting sufficient sleep to maintain good health.