New Gallup Poll on Sleep

A recent Gallup poll reveals that 40 percent of Americans aren’t getting the recommended number of hours of nighttime sleep. The general recommendation for optimal sleep is seven to nine hours per night. The average amount of sleep among Americans across the board is 6.8 hours.

While these numbers have been fairly consistent since the 1990’s, the results show that the average number of hours Americans sleep at night is down more than an hour per night compared with the results from 1942, when the average was 7.9 hours of sleep per night. It’s also worth mentioning that in 1942, 84 percent of Americans received the recommended amount of daily sleep.

Consequences of Too Little Sleep

WebMD claims that 90 percent of people who suffer from insomnia also have at least one other major health condition. Sleep deprivation is commonly associated with the following conditions:

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • And more

A recent Harvard School of Public Health article also associates sleep deprivation with obesity. The article references a Nurses’ Health Study that followed 60,000 healthy women (who were all at healthy weights when the study began) over the course of 16 years, chronicling sleep habits, diet, weight, and other lifestyle aspects.

At the end of 16 years, the women who slept five or fewer hours per night were 15 percent more likely to become obese when compared to those who slept seven hours per night. They also had a 30 percent greater risk of gaining 30 pounds over the course of the study compared to the women who slept seven hours each night.

How to Get More Sleep

The simple solution is to change the amount of sleep you receive on an average night. Little changes in your daily habits and routines can help you get the sleep you need.

  • Initiate an electronics curfew. Turn off the television, iPad, laptop, video games, and mobile phones at a certain time each night. Over time, this reduction in “screen time” will become part of a nightly routine that signals your brain it’s time to sleep.
  • Clear out the clutter in your bedroom. This isn’t necessarily about cleaning up a messy bedroom. Eliminate things on the wall and on shelves that aren’t essential. As a bedroom Feng Shui approach, the fewer visual and mental distractions you have in your room, the easier it becomes to “turn off” your brain so you can get the sleep you need.

The health benefits of getting adequate sleep alone are enough to consider making a few painless changes like those mentioned above. Factor in additional benefits such as looking younger with beauty sleep and maintaining better mental acuity, and getting the right amount of sleep becomes an investment in your health as well as your quality of life.

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