Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic

 

Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.

What you Need to Know (Part 1 in a Series):

* Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes.
* Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.
* Sleep insufficiency may be caused by broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules, but sleep disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also play an important role.
* An estimated 50-70 million adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder in the U.S. alone according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
* Notably, snoring is a major indicator of obstructive sleep apnea.

In recognition of the importance of sleep to the nation’s health, CDC surveillance of sleep-related behaviors has increased in recent years. Additionally, the U.S. Based Institute of Medicine encouraged collaboration between CDC and the U.S. National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to support development and expansion of adequate surveillance of the U.S. population’s sleep patterns and associated outcomes. Two new reports on the prevalence of unhealthy sleep behaviors and self-reported sleep-related difficulties among U.S. adults provide further evidence that insufficient sleep is an important public health concern.
Sleep-Related Unhealthy Behaviors

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey included a core question regarding perceived insufficient rest or sleep in 2008 (included since 1995 on the Health Related Quality of Life module) and an optional module of four questions on sleep behavior in 2009. Data from the 2009 BRFSS Sleep module were used to assess the prevalence of unhealthy/sleep behaviors by selected sociodemographic factors and geographic variations in 12 states. The analysis[PDF – 1.1MB], determined that, among 74,571 adult respondents in 12 states, 35.3% reported <7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period, 48.0% reported snoring, 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month, and 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month. This is the first CDC surveillance report to include estimates of drowsy driving and unintentionally falling asleep during the day. The U.S. National Department of Transportation estimates drowsy driving to be responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the United States.