Lack of Sleep in America Today Could Have Deadly Consequences

Sleeplessness in America seems to be reaching epic proportions. Children, students, young adults, professionals, parents and even retirees are experiencing sleep deprivation and the ensuing consequences. In one recent sleep study, I was surprised to see that the researchers were considering both too much sleep AND too little sleep. Too much sleep? Really?!? Needless to say, I was surprised when they found that both were associated with adverse health outcomes including total mortality, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, respiratory disorders, obesity in both children and adults, and overall poor health. This study analyzed 1,382,999 participants, and found that sleeping both too long and not long enough were determined to be significant predictors of death. (1) Death? From not sleeping enough, or sleeping too much?

I wasn’t surprised to hear that fewer hours of sleep, especially across ‘westernized populations’ resulted in increased fatigue, tiredness and excessive daytime sleepiness… That’s me on any given day, and I was aware that a lack of sleep also exerts deleterious effects on a variety of systems including the metabolic, endocrine, and immune systems. (1)

In fact, in another study published in the European Heart Journal, death and ‘major cardiovascular events’ were recorded in 116, 632 participants from 21 countries and it found that a total sleep duration of 6-8 hours per day is associated with the lowest risk of death and major cardiovascular events. Surprisingly the same study also found that daytime napping is associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events and death in those with less than 6 hours of sleep a night, but not in those who slept more than 6 hours per night. (2)

So what should a person do to ensure that he or she has a good night’s sleep? (3)

  1. Do your best to be consistent. Set up a routine leading up to bedtime.
  2. Try and be sure that you go to bed at roughly the same time each night, and that you get up at the same time in the morning (including weekends).
  3. Be certain that your bedroom is quiet, comfortable and that electronics including computers, televisions, and smartphones have been removed.
  4. Try to avoid electronics at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed.
  5. Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime.


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