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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sleep: Important Facts

More than one-third of Americans routinely sleep fewer than seven hours a night, which affects their concentration and general health, new government research shows. The study was done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Insufficient sleep can affect work performance and the ability to safely drive a car.

"Over the last 20 years there has been a decline in overall sleep duration in adults," said lead author of one report, Lela McKnight-Eily, a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep for 7 to 9 hours a night to maintain good health.

But when McKnight-Eily's team studied the sleep habits of 74,571 adults in 12 states, 35.3 percent reported sleeping less than seven hours.

In addition, 48 percent reported snoring, 37.9 percent said they fell asleep at least once during the day the previous month and 4.7 percent admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at least once.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drowsiness or nodding off while driving accounts for 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries a year.

In the study, some of the states with the highest number of sleepy drivers, who admitted to nodding off while driving, include Hawaii, Texas and Illinois. If you want to read the full report, Here is the link: Unhealthy Sleep-Related Behaviors --- 12 States, 2009

Here is some great information from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:

Warning signs that you might be too sleepy to drive:

- trouble keeping your eyes focused
- continual yawning
- inability to recall driving the last few miles

Tips To Avoid Drowsy Driving:

Be well rested before hitting the road. Keep in mind that if you skimp on sleep for several nights in a row, it might take more than 1 night of good sleep to be well rested and alert.

Avoid driving between midnight and 7 a.m. This period of time is when we are naturally the most sleepy.

Don’t drive alone. A companion who’s awake and can keep you engaged in conversation may help you stay awake.

Schedule frequent breaks on long road trips.

Don’t drink alcohol!

Don’t count on caffeine. Although drinking a cola or coffee might help keep you awake for a
short time, it won’t overcome excessive sleepiness.

Here are some other great links to information on healthy sleep habits:

Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) - PDF

In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (A condensed version of the link above) (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) - PDF

Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

And for all kinds of great links on sleep disorders, visit the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus Sleep Disorders page.

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