Not Enough Sleep All Too Common

Few Adults Are Always Well-Rested, and Americans Get Less Sleep Than 20 Years Ago, Says CDC

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 28, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

Feb. 28, 2008 -- U.S. adults are sleeping less than they did two decades ago, leaving few people feeling well-rested all the time, new CDC data show.

The CDC today issued two new reports that peek into the sleep habits of U.S. adults.

The first report comes from 19,589 adults in four states -- Delaware, Hawaii, New York, and Rhode Island -- who took part in 2006 telephone survey.

They were asked how often, during the previous 30 days, they felt they had gotten enough rest or sleep. Here are the results:

  • 10% said they didn't get enough sleep or rest in any of the previous 30 days.
  • About 30% said they got enough sleep or rest every day during the previous 30 days.

Adults aged 55 and younger and people who say they were unable to work were particularly likely to report not getting enough sleep.

Participants weren't asked how much sleep or rest they got -- just whether they felt that they got "enough" rest or sleep. The findings might not apply to the rest of the country.

Sleep Shortfall

More Americans are skimping on sleep than in the past, according to the CDC's second set of sleep statistics.

In a then-and-now comparison, the CDC charted the percentage of U.S. adults in 1985 and 2006 who report getting no more than six hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period.

The bottom line: Getting up to six hours of sleep was more common in 2006 than in 1985. That pattern held for all age groups and was strongest for people aged 30-64.Â

Both studies appear in the Feb. 29 edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The studies don't show why people are sleeping less. It could be because of sleep disorders, other conditions, or lifestyle factors, including staying up late to surf the Internet or watch TV.

Sleep Tips

The CDC notes that, according to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need seven to nine hours of nightly sleep to feel fully rested, and kids need more sleep. An estimated 50-70 million people in the U.S. have chronic sleep and wakefulness disorders, according to background information in the CDC's report.

If you're one of the many people who are short on sleep, here are the CDC's tips:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Sleep in a dark, well-ventilated space at a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid stimulating activities within two hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the evening.
  • Avoid going to bed on a full or empty stomach.
  • See a doctor if you are concerned about chronic sleep problems.

Show Sources


CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Feb. 29, 2008; vol 57: pp 200-203, 209.

News release, CDC.

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