INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If you didn’t get enough sleep last night, you’re not alone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls lack of sleep an epidemic in the United States.
A recent poll showed 40 percent of Americans don’t get adequate sleep. On average, we slept much more decades ago. Today we average 6.8 hours of sleep a night, down more than an hour from 1942.
“I think it’s kind if the way we live, unfortunately,” said Kristen Fuhs-Wells, a working wife and mother who said she tries to get seven hours of sleep a night.
Doctors agree that we live in an increasingly 24-hour-a-day world; connected all the time.
“People can drive more, work more, there are too many activities. So the thing you can always cut back on is sleep,” said Dr. Kuimil Mohan, a neurologist with St. Vincent Health.
While we often choose to cut back on sleep, Moham said we should not.
“Sleep deprivation is an increasingly severe problem,” he said.
Moham said not getting enough can cause brain fog and trouble paying attention, which of course can be dangerous.
According to state police, in Indiana last year, drivers who fell asleep or were tired contributed to more than 2,600 crashes. 832 people were hurt and 11 people died.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates some 1,500 people are killed in the U.S. each year.
Mohan says over time not getting enough sleep can cause serious health problems, too, including diabetes, hypertension and weight gain. He says there’s also a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, and recent research shows it may potentially even contribute to some cancers.
“There is no other way around it. You have to get enough sleep over the long term,” Mohan said.
Mohan says sleep deprivation is like a credit card — if you spend it, or lose sleep, you have to pay it back by catching up. He suggests trying to add an hour a night if you’re sleep-deprived.
Most people need seven to nine hours.
To get a restful night’s sleep, doctors recommend not eating a big meal immediately before going to bed. Also, make sure your bedroom temperature is cool, and try to stick to a bedtime schedule.