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Insufficient Sleep: A Public Health Problem

woman-sleepingPrime Clean shared that insufficient sleep has been defined as a “public health epidemic” in the United States, and researchers agree.

A survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only 65% of adults reported “a healthy sleep duration.” This implies that the other 35% of the respondents are not getting sufficient sleep.

A study published by the US National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health concludes that “globally, insufficient sleep is prevalent across various age groups, considered to be a public health epidemic that is often unrecognized, under-reported, and that has rather high economic costs.”

The good news is that even though insufficient sleep may be a challenge in the US and across the world, there are some lifestyle changes we can embrace to get sufficient sleep.

For those with underlying conditions, solutions like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), sleep environment improvement, and stimulus control therapy have proven useful.

In this article, we define sleep deprivation and identify its various types. We also look at some causes of insufficient sleep, sleep apnea, sleep-related unhealthy behavior, and the effects of sleep deprivation. Finally, we give examples of how sleep deprivation can be treated.

Why Is Sleep Important?

Suppose we say that sleep deprivation is a public health epidemic. In that case, we are implying that there is something wrong with insufficient sleep. But is this the case?

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has the answer: “Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life.” The same organization notes that getting sufficient quality sleep has several advantages, including protecting physical and mental health, improving the quality of life, and general safety.

According to, “researchers also believe that sleep may promote the removal of waste products from brain cells—something that seems to occur less efficiently when the brain is awake.”

However, we don’t need experts to tell us why sufficient sleep is important. Most of us know how it is to spend a whole day trying to ward off sleep. The experience can be debilitating.

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation refers to a situation where an individual is consistently not getting the recommended amount of sleep. If you are an adult, you are sleep deprived if you are not getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Depending on age, sufficient sleep for children can be between eight and 17 hours.

The hours given above are only recommendations. An article published by the Harvard Medical School concludes that two factors impact the amount of sleep an individual needs: age and genetics. The same article points out that you can determine the amount of time that constitutes sufficient sleep for you. You first need to allow yourself to sleep as much as possible. Once you know the amount you need, you can then allocate enough time during your day to get sufficient sleep.

If you don’t have enough time to sleep as much as possible, check out the CDC’s recommendations here.

To read the entire article, click here.

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