March 27, 2001 -- Half of the nation's adults are sleep deprived, sacrificing one of life's basic necessities for more hours at work, a national sleep survey has found. And some people are just too tired to have sex.
In a random survey of 1,004 adults, the National Sleep Foundation found that the majority of Americans — 63 percent — don't get the eight hours of sleep recommended by experts for good health.
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The study found the overall lack of sleep is overwhelmingly associated with Americans working longer hours. More than a third of the respondents said they worked more than 50 hours a week.
Lack of Sleep Bad for Sex Life
"There is a direct relationship between the hours worked and its negative impact on sleep," says James C. Walsh, vice president of the National Sleep Foundation. "This is particularly noticeable for people working more than 40 hours per week." The study found most people tried to compensate for the lack of sleep during the week by tacking on a couple extra hours on the weekend.
Although Americans are more likely to give up sleep in order to allocate hours toward work, the survey also reported people are spending less time engaged in social and leisure activities, and less time having sex than five years ago.
Lower marital satisfaction is associated with less sleep, the study found. People who report less happiness in their marriages are more likely to report problems with sleeping.
The study found that more than 80 percent of those surveyed said they would sleep more if they thought it would benefit their overall health, safety and well-being.
"The good news is that many Americans say they don't want to give up any more sleep in spite of their hectic lives," says Richard F. Gelula, executive director of the National Sleep Foundation. "
Sleepy at Work and the Wheel
Ironically, while most sleep-deprived Americans say they give up sleep for work, nearly 40 percent say they are so sleepy several days a month that it interferes with their daily activities.
While sacrificing sleep can be counter-productive in the workplace, Gelula says it can be dangerous in a nation dependent on travel by car. Nearly one half of adults report they have driven while drowsy in the past year and nearly 20 percent say they have actually fallen asleep while driving.
"We have our work cut out for us to educate Americans that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury," says Gelula.