The new Sleep In America Poll came out today, the first day of National Sleep Awareness Week 2011.
This poll was all about our use of technology during the hour before bed, our nightly sleep, and daytime function. Here are some of the highlights:
– 63% say that during the week their sleep needs are not met
– 60% say they have a sleep problem almost every night
– 95% of us use technology during the hour before bed a few nights a week or more
– 20% of 13-29 year olds say they are awoken by a text, phone call or email several nights a week
-22% of 13-18 year olds are clinically sleepy
– About 10% of 13-45 year olds say they drive drowsy 1-2 times a week
Even the light from your TV or laptop is enough to suppress melatonin. During the hour before bed your melatonin should be increasing, allowing you to become sleepy and fall to sleep easily. The time for bright light is in the morning to get energized.
How Can We Use this Information?
First off, think back to a time that you were really well rested. It may be on a vacation or holiday break, before the kids were born, while unemployed, or if you’re lucky, in the last week or two. Then answer these questions:
– How much sleep do you need to really feel your best?
– Are you getting that amount of sleep most nights?
– If not, how much more sleep time do you need?
Now, how are you spending the last couple hours before bed? Are you watching TV, or doing other hobbies that you could do at another time in order to get the sleep you need? If so, could you move this TV watching to another time, maybe using some recording device?
The biggest question though, the ‘Million Dollar’ question to ask yourself is: “Would I benefit more from getting more sleep and being healthier, or do I benefit more from watching TV in the evening?” Let me know your answer!
In June 2009, Drs. Basner and Dinges published an article titled “Dubious Bargain: Trading Sleep for Leno and Letterman.” Is this something you can relate to- staying up late to watch your favorite show even when you know you’re tired?
The relationship between exercise and sleep
The U.S. Census Bureau has a continuous telephone survey of 105 million households. It is called the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This paper looked at how people spent the 2 hours before bed, and the 2 hours after getting up. They grouped people into 3 categories: Long workers (>8 hours daily), short workers (<8 hours) and non workers.
An estimated 20-40% of adults sleep less than the recommended 7+ hours each night. Remember that measured sleep is usually less than reported sleep, so these estimates may be low. Short sleep duration is associated with increased illness and obesity. The researchers’ goal was to determine if there are discretionary activities that can be eliminated to increase sleep time.
Among the three groups, bedtime was the same, and the long workers got up earlier than the others. People watch TV for 55 minutes of the 2 hours before bed. Travel and work took up 27% (about 30 minutes) of the 2 hours after waking for the day.
The authors conclude that watching TV may be an important social cue of approaching bedtime. They also conclude that “giving up some TV viewing in the evening should be possible to reduce chronic sleep debt and promote adequate sleep in those who need it.”