The National Sleep Foundation reports about 20% of Americans average less than 6 hours of sleep per night. In addition, the number of Americans who report getting 8 hours of sleep or more has decreased.
According to Laurie Mooney, M.D., clinical director of the Samaritan Sleep Center, adults should average 7 ½ to 8 ½ hours of sleep every evening. Based on population averages, Dr. Mooney also recommends the following:
- Children between the ages of 1-5 should get 10 to 12 hours of sleep.
- Children between the ages of 6-11 need around 9.5 to 11 hours of sleep.
- And children ages 12-18 should average around 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep. Dr. Mooney notes that during puberty and growth spurts, some children might need more sleep.
What is to blame, then, for the sleeping habit of Americans? Societal demands, including work-related stress, and poor habits, such as drinking and smoking, combine to alter the time we designate to sleep, and impacts our ability to sleep.
But recent studies have identified a link to heart disease, diabetes and obesity with chronic sleep loss, indicating sleep is just as important to your health as diet and exercise.
In addition, sleep deficits can lead to poor work performance, driving accidents, relationship problems, and mood problems like anger and depression.
With nearly 100 identified sleep/awake disorders and a variety of treatment options available, chronic sleep loss should be less pervasive. However, sleep disorders are under-diagnosed, and under-treated, often because patients don't discuss their sleeping patterns or problems with their primary care physician. Please, if you feel you would benefit from a sleep study or examination by sleep specialist Dr. Mooney, ask your physician for a referral.