National Sleep Foundation Poll Finds Inadequate Sleep is Associated with Health and Safety

WASHINGTON, DC, March 2, 2009 – One-third of Americans are losing sleep over the state of the U.S. economy and other personal financial concerns, according to a new poll released today by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The poll suggests that inadequate sleep is associated with unhealthy lifestyles and negatively impacts health and safety.

NSF’s Sleep in America™ poll reveals striking disparities in the sleep patterns, health habits and quality of life between healthy and unhealthy Americans. Those in good health are two-times more likely than those in poor health to work efficiently, exercise or eat healthy because they are getting enough sleep.

The number of people reporting sleep problems has increased 13% since 2001. In the past eight years, the number of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night jumped from 13% to 20%, and those who reported sleeping eight hours or more dropped from 38% to 28%.

“It’s easy to understand why so many people are concerned over the economy and jobs, but sacrificing sleep is the wrong solution,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “Sleep is essential for productivity and alertness and is a vital sign for one’s overall health.”

About 40% of Americans agree that sleep is as important as diet and exercise to overall health and well-being; yet, only 32% of Americans who report sleep problems discuss them with their doctor.

“Sleep is so obvious, that it is often overlooked, even by physicians,” says Woodie Kessel, MD, MPH, Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS (Ret.) who was a member of the 2009 Sleep in America™ Poll Taskforce. “Sleep is as fundamental as diet and exercise to human health.”

Lack of sleep is creating a major public safety problem as well—drowsy driving. The 2009 poll finds that more than one-half of adults (54%) – potentially 110 million licensed drivers– have driven when drowsy at least once in the past year. Nearly one-third of drivers polled (28%) say that they have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving a vehicle.

Two out of every ten Americans sleep less than six hours a night. People sleeping too few hours report being too tired to work efficiently, to exercise or to eat healthy. Nearly 40% of these Americans sleeping too few hours have driven when drowsy at least once a month in the past year and nearly 90% report symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week in the past month.

“With the economy worsening, we are seeing patients in our clinic who have told us that they would not be returning for treatment because they or a family member have lost their jobs, and they are concerned about costs,” says Meir Kryger, MD, Director of Research and Education at Gaylord Sleep Services. “These patients may wind up far sicker. Sleep disorders are often associated with other chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, and they can add complexity and even accelerate each other if untreated.”

As experts predict that the U.S. economic situation may get worse in 2009, the National Sleep Foundation encourages Americans to maintain good sleep, exercise and diet routines to help combat anxiety and improve health and productivity. People should speak with their doctor if they are experiencing sleep problems.

Visit the National Sleep Foundation’s new website, to see how your sleep compares to other Americans’ and learn tips to help you sleep.

Poll Methodology

The 2009 Sleep in America™ poll was conducted for the National Sleep Foundation by WB&A Market Research, using a random sample of 1,000 adults at least 18 years of age who were interviewed by telephone between September 22, 2008 and October 30, 2008. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 %

2009 Sleep in America™ Poll Taskforce

Amy Wolfson, PhD, Professor of Psychology, College of the Holy Cross

Michael V. Vitiello, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington

Woodie Kessel, MD, MPH, Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS (Retired)

Janet Croft, PhD, Chief, Emerging Investigations and Analytic Methods Branch, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Susan Redline, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Case School of Medicine

Tips for Healthy Sleep

According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 70 million people in the United States are affected by a chronic seep disorder or intermittent sleep problem, with women suffering from lack of sleep more often than men and with increasing frequency as they age. If you have difficulty with your sleep for any reason, here are some tips that may help you get a better night’s sleep:

1. Try to have a standard relaxing bedtime routine and keep regular sleep times. Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet and that your pillows, sleep surface and coverings provide you with comfort.

2. Exercise regularly, but finish your workout at least three hours before bedtime.

3. Avoid foods and drinks high in caffeine (coffee, colas and tea) for at least eight hours prior to bedtime, and avoid alcohol for a few hours before bedtime. Caffeine and alcohol disturb sleep.

4. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex; if you do this, you will strengthen the association between bed and sleep. It is best to remove work materials, computers and televisions from the sleep environment.

NSF released the poll findings as part of its 12th annual National Sleep Awareness Week® campaign, held March 1-8, 2009, that culminates with the change to Daylight Saving Time on March 8th. With the change of clocks, NSF wishes to remind Americans that losing sleep is an important health consideration. For more sleep tips, information on sleep disorders and a Summary of Findings for the 2009 Sleep in America™ poll, visit NSF’s Web site at

Additional Information

* Summary of Findings

* 2009 Poll Highlights

NSF Background

National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving sleep health and safety by achieving greater awareness of sleep and sleep disorders through education and advocacy. NSF’s membership includes researchers and clinicians focused on sleep medicine as well as other professionals in the health/medical/science fields, patients, people affected by drowsy driving, individuals, and more than 900 healthcare facilities throughout North America that join the Foundation’s Sleep Care Center Membership Program.

NSF does not solicit nor accept funding for its annual Sleep in America™ polls; NSF polls are developed by an independent task force of sleep scientists and government representatives who provide guidance and expertise in developing the poll questionnaire and analysis of the data. National Sleep Foundation is based in Washington, DC.

NSF can be found online at, with information on former polls and a database of sleep professionals throughout the United States, who may be contacted to comment on this story or refer patients to be interviewed.

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