According to a new study from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) featuring data from 444,306 participants across 50 states, adults are not getting the quantity of sleep they need to be considered healthy.
The CDC is labelling sleep deprivation a public health problem that can cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease and mental illness.
"People just aren't putting sleep on the top of their priority list," said Anne Wheaton, PhD, an epidemiologist at the CDC and the author of the study. "They know they should eat right, get exercise, quit smoking, but sleep just isn't at the top of their board. And maybe they aren't aware of the impact sleep can have on your health. It doesn't just make you sleepy, but it can also affect your health and safety."
While there are past studies showing lack of sleep is a big health problem, this is the first study to evaluate sleep hours on a state level. Results of the study showed that residents of the states in the Southeast and along the Appalachian Mountains sleep the least. In contrast, those in South Dakota, Colorado, and Minnesota sleep the most.
The current study is important because it can assist public health departments can reveal where the problem of sleep deprivation is most severe. Interestingly, the study also revealed that compared to single adults, married couples sleep better and longer.
Dr. Shalini Paruthi, co-director of the sleep center at St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, said this finding is rational. She said it might have something to do with the buddy system. "We do think having another person there with you can help you be more aware if you have a sleep issue, and help you talk things out," she said.