Sleep Deprivation – A Global Epidemic

In just the past 50 years, the average sleep duration has decreased by almost two hours per day. Over the course of a lifespan, that’s A LOT of sleep. During the same time period, the medical community has seen a leap in the prevalence of chronic diseases and conditions including obesity and diabetes. Could it be that sleep deprivation is a fueling factor of these epidemics?

According the National Sleep Foundation, 75% of adults experience daytime sleepiness, and one third believe it interferes with their daily activities.  There are many culprits causing this sleepiness. Our 24/7 technology-driven society undoubtedly steals some shut-eye. Anxiety disorders and financial worries keep people awake at night. Sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea also contribute to this sleepiness.

While some people choose to shrug off sleepiness, relying heavily on caffeine instead, they may not realize how negatively it impacts their health. There is strong evidence linking sleep deprivation to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other unwanted conditions. Unfortunately, these conditions themselves can also interfere with sleep quality, creating a vicious cycle of fatigue. Lack of sleep may also weaken the immune system and throw off your attitude and appetite.

Studies have shown that the world’s sleep problems are not limited to developed nations. Developing countries too are impacted by many of the same contributors, in addition to the effects of poverty on sleep.

What would the world be like if we could all get enough sleep? There are important health and safety implications of  sleep deprivation that call for making sleep a top priority in our plugged-in, 24/7 world. Together with diet and exercise, sleep makes a vital contribution to overall well-being. Help stop the epidemic and give yourself some more sleep.