A Third of Adults Lack Regular, Refreshing Sleep

Study finds people who work, have a college degree or are married tend to get better sleep

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- One of every three Americans doesn't get enough sleep on a regular basis, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

About 35 percent of U.S. adults are sleeping less than seven hours a night, increasing their risk of a wide variety of health problems, CDC researchers reported on Feb. 18 in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Getting less than seven hours of sleep a night has been associated with increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, frequent mental distress and death, the study authors said.

"People have to recognize that sleep is just as important as what they're eating and how much they're exercising," said Dr. Shalini Paruthi, co-director of the Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis. "It's one of the pillars of good health."

The CDC study is the first to document estimated sleep duration for all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the researchers said.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults ages 18 to 60 sleep at least seven hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being.

"There seems to be sort of a good cutoff point, where if you get at least seven hours, your body and brain will function at their best," said Paruthi, noting that a 15-member AASM panel came to this conclusion after reviewing thousands of sleep studies.

The percentage of people getting a good night's sleep varied widely from state to state, ranging from 56 percent in Hawaii to nearly 72 percent in South Dakota, the CDC reported.

Work appears to help people get a good night's rest. People who are unable to work or are unemployed had lower healthy sleep duration (51 percent and 60 percent, respectively) than did employed folks (65 percent), researchers said.

People with higher education also appeared better able to sleep well. The percentage of people who get healthy sleep duration was highest among people with a college degree or higher (72 percent), the survey noted.