America Is Getting Very Tired

You don't have to live in New York -- the city that never sleeps -- to become sleep deprived. More than 70 million people nationwide may have trouble sleeping, according to the National Institutes of Health, and that number is expected to grow every year as baby boomers get older.

Women, in particular mothers, are the most sleep-deprived, according to the National Sleep Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization. Moms lose about nine hours of sleep a week, a statistic that wouldn't surprise Diana La Sorsa, mother of four.

"By the time 8 o'clock rolls around, I've had it," she says.

But like most moms, that's when her second shift begins. She tackles a multitude of chores before corralling her kids into bed.

"Late at night, I think of that as my downtime," La Sorsa says. "It's also the time of day that my husband and I can just talk."

But talking may be all they have the energy to do. According to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, 25 percent of couples say they're too sleepy for sex.

Sleep deprivation has spread to the younger family members too. Caffeine is also a major sleep saboteur -- 75 percent of adolescents drink at least one caffeinated beverage a day, and those who drink two or more a day are more likely to report insufficient sleep on school nights.

"It takes me a while to get up in the morning, and also I can't get up on my own," says Diana La Sorsa's teenage daughter, Cara La Sorsa. "I need my parents to come in numerous times and wake me up."

In the recent 2006 National Sleep Foundation Poll, three in 10 adolescents report taking two or more naps in the previous two weeks. Seven in 10 adolescents report taking one or fewer naps in the same time period.

Late-night sports practices, homework or computer use also can delay bedtime for teens.

"I am in a rush, and because there are so many things I have to do, I find it's almost impossible for me to actually get to bed when I want to," Cara La Sorsa says.

Diana La Sorsa believes her family life would improve if they all got more sleep.

"I think if we all felt a little more rested, I think maybe we might be a little more thoughtful toward one another," she says. "The dynamics of the family would maybe run more smoothly. You would feel more likely to say yes to mom, rather than no."

ABC parenting contributor Anne Pleshette Murphy reported this story for "Good Morning America."

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