V. Key Issues: Population Health >> E. Health Promotion >> Sleep Deprivation (last updated 12.31.16)
Minimum Recommended Amount of Sleep
- In June 2015, two of the leading sleep associations — the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society — issued recommendations stating that adults should sleep seven or more hours on a regular basis. A 2015 study of hunter-gatherers shows they sleep 6.5 hours a night, although their sleep period (actual time spent in bed) was roughly 7-8.5 hours.
Extent of Sleep Deprivation
- 5% of Americans take sleeping pills.
- About 35% of adults say they typically get less than seven hours, according to a survey of 444,000 people age 18 and older conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014.
- Chronic insomnia affects 20-30% of Americans vs. 2% of hunter-gatherers who are not exposed to artificial light or temperature.
- 40.6 million U.S. workers (30% of total) get less than 6 hours of sleep a night.
- CDC. Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults — United States, 2014. The first state-specific estimates of the prevalence of a ≥7 hour sleep duration in a 24-hour period show geographic clustering of lower prevalence estimates for this duration of sleep in the southeastern United States and in states along the Appalachian Mountains, which are regions with the highest burdens of obesity and other chronic conditions. Non-Hispanic black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and multiracial populations report a lower prevalence of ≥7 hours sleep compared with the rest of the U.S. adult population.
- One study in Australia calculated the cost of sleeplessness at 0.8 percent of GDP.
- U.S. companies lose $63.2 billion a year in productivity losses from workers with insomnia (who lose an average of 7.8 days of productivity per year).
- People waste 8.4 minutes online for every hour of disrupted sleep the previous night.
Impact on Traffic Safety
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
- Acute Sleep Deprivation and Crash Risk. Previous research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has estimated as many as 7% of all crashes, 13% of crashes that result in hospital admission, and 21% of fatal crashes involve driver drowsiness. However, the relationship between specific measures of sleep deprivation and crash risk has not been quantified in the general driving population. The results of this study indicate that drivers who usually sleep for less than 5 hours daily, drivers who have slept for less than 7 hours in the past 24 hours, and drivers who have slept for 1 or more hours less than their usual amount of sleep in the past 24 hours have significantly elevated crash rates. The estimated rate ratio for crash involvement associated with driving after only 4-5 hours of sleep compared with 7 hours or more is similar to the U.S. government’s estimates of the risk associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or slightly above the legal limit for alcohol in the U.S.
- Drowsy Driving. A Foundation study completed in November 2014 found the impact of having drowsy drivers on the road is considerable. Drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21% of fatal crashes, up from 16.5% from the previous 2010 study, as most drivers drift out of their lanes or off the road. Drivers themselves are often crash victims who die in single-car crashes.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A survey published by the CDC in 2013 found that one in 25 people admitted to having fallen asleep while driving during the previous month. To put that in perspective, mathematical models based on this data imply that an estimated 15 to 33 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States might involve a drowsy driver.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine
- Sleep Research Centre, Loughborough University (England)
- Sleep Research Society