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While Americans continue to seek a more balanced approach to their fragmented lives, an estimated 70 million adults suffer from poor sleep health and sleep deprivation. Most often, these problems impact an individual’s professional life, personal activities and general well being. Some experts say this problem is reaching epidemic proportions and costing the U.S. economy $100 billion in lost productivity, medical expenses, sick leave and property and environmental damage annually.
While sleep experts recommend eight hours of sleep to maintain good sleep health, in its 2001 Omnibus "Sleep In America" Poll, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports that one-third of adults (31%) say they don’t get seven hours of sleep per night. These numbers show consistency across various demographics including gender, geographic regions, health conditions and marital and socioeconomic statuses. The sleep poll also reports that 22% of respondents said they are so sleepy during the day that it interferes with their daily activities at least a few days every week. This condition often leads to a lack of energy for daily activities and exercise.
The facts may speak for themselves, but, unfortunately, many patients don’t recognize their own sleep deprivation and their doctors don’t understand the impact of sleep on overall health. The NSF says as many as 80% of physicians have admitted they are not as knowledgeable about sleep problems as they should be. Many experts argue that as long as Americans are getting limited sleep, they should strive to obtain the best quality of sleep they can without resorting to over-the-counter medications or supplements that may prove more harmful than good. One recommended approach would focus on areas of sleep wellness and sleep hygiene, which most people haven’t been educated about.