Friday, February 26, 2016

CDC Study Examines Social Patterns Among Healthy Sleepers


Featuring Carol Ash, D.O.
Director of Sleep Medicine
Meridian Health


Inadequate sleep has been linked to conditions that include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, anxiety, and depression.

Now, with an increasing number of Americans stressing more and sleeping less, the need has never been greater for us to challenge traditional answers to an age-old question: What is really keeping us up at night?

According to a recent CDC report, 35% of U.S. adults are getting less than the essential seven hours of sleep, and 12% of Americans are sleeping less than five hours per day. The report includes a demographic breakdown of healthy sleepers in each of the 50 states — revealing patterns which beg further questions about the nation’s sleep epidemic.

These trends hint at deeper, social connections to this potentially life threatening health condition, and they are a further reminder that the difficulties that Americans struggle with during the day don’t simply disappear when the lights go out.

Key points from the CDC’s findings include:
· Lack of sleep is more prevalent in urban, densely populated areas
· Married and unmarried couples get more sleep than people who are divorced, widowed or separated
· People with a college education get more sleep
· The unemployed have the lowest average of healthy sleepers (51%)

“Look at the trends, and then ask yourself ‘Why?’ What’s the connection?” says Carol Ash, D.O. “When we’re fighting to make ends meet — whether it’s due to unemployment, poverty or problems with a spouse — it plagues our mental, physical and emotional health. People need stability, and when we’re struggling with economic and/or social turmoil, the stress, anxiety and depression can be overpowering, even when the lights go out.”

Dr. Ash believes the solution lies in a push toward education and an emphasis on every day, healthy minded practices. She credits groundbreaking research initiated in 1965 involving nearly 7,000 residents of Alameda County, California, which concluded that sleep was one of seven health habits, a.k.a. the "Alameda 7," revealed to be key determinants of good health and, ultimately, a longer life.

“The key is education on the importance of simple, everyday lifestyle adjustments, empowerment from the knowledge that, yes, you are in control,” Ash says.

Simple behaviors proven to have a positive impact on sleep include:
· Eat healthier
· Exercise. 30 minutes a day is optimum, but starting at even less is still a start.
· Mindfulness and/or breathing exercises
· Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake up time

Read the full CDC report here for more information.

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