Study Shows that Americans are Besieged by Sleeplessness
More and more Americans work and walk around like sleep-deprived zombies, in part due to growing work hours and poor choices made in an environment that is potentially always "on" due to television and the Internet. That's according to a study published last week by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine.
The study found that chronic sleep disorders now affect a whopping 50 million to 70 million Americans. Millions more are deprived of sleep on a semi-regular basis. In addition to environment, factors owing to physiology play a role, too. Among other things, more and more Americans are obese, which can interfere with slumber.
The study noted that drug companies are rushing sleep medicines into the sleepless void, targeting the trend as an emerging market. Some 43 million prescriptions for sleep aids were filled last year, and four new drugs will be released over the next year and a half. New sleep centers have sprung up unaccredited throughout the land, tempting Americans. "You can get a sleep study done in a strip mall now without ever meeting with a [qualified] specialist," James Wyatt of the Sleep Disorders Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago told the Chicago Tribune.
As noted in the sleep study, the growth in disorders seems to be the product of a failure to deal effectively with environment. That's part of a larger societal trend, say other psychologists. The New York Times ran a piece last week noting that current research shows some 9 percent of Americans suffer from problems related to "high impulsiveness."