There can be consequences to not getting enough sleep. For many, working patterns vary. Examples include truckers or those who do shift work. Throw in shifts that switch from night to day every few weeks, and it can be even harder to get enough sleep. But as our colleague Jon Gelman of New Jersey shows us in today’s guest post, sleep is essential for health and well-being. And not enough sleep is a compensable condition.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that U.S. adults receive, on average, 7–9 hours of sleep per night; however, 37.1% of adults report regularly sleeping <7 hours per night. Persons reporting sleeping <7 hours on average during a 24-hour interval are more likely to report unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least 1 day out of the preceding 30 days (46.2% compared with 33.2%) and nodding off or falling asleep at the wheel during the previous 30 days (7.3% compared with 3.0%). Frequent insufficient sleep (14 or more days in the past 30 days) also has been associated with self-reported anxiety, depressive symptoms, and frequent mental and physical distress (4).
Even short term sleep duration is linked with:
- Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
- Increase in body mass index – a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation
- Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems
- Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse
- Decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information
Such findings suggest the need for greater awareness of the importance of sufficient sleep. Further information about factors relevant to optimal sleep can be obtained from the National Sleep Foundation and CDC.