Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sleepy Americans

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."


Anonymous JimboOmega said...

I somewhat dislike articles like these, that tend to blame our modern society for our sleep problems. It may or may not be true, but it doesn't offer a solution. If, as implied, 30 million americans have primary insomina, what is to be done about it?

Blaming modern society seems like a scapegoat because it's vague. It could be that we have stimulating things to do around bedtime - but our parents and their parents had electric lights, too. It could be that we spend all day in the office and not the fields, so we get no strong sun signals. Maybe it's the always-questionable "toxins". It could be our supposedly hyper-charged lifestyles that have us partying until the wee hours of the morning and at work at the crack of dawn. It could be that while we're wildly active at all hours of the day and night, we're also getting fat and not getting exercise... and so on. Maybe we just never learned impulse control because we always had TV...

I don't know, but not knowing has given 30 million Americans many sleepless nights. I'm tired of being tired. And the message this article seems to give is -- sorry, too bad. Most doctors don't know anything about it, and what sleep centers are available are often fly-by-night operations. Alternative treatments are even worse than the rather-limited pharamacuetical treatments. So what does that leave us, Steve Pavlina? Who seems to be arguing that we don't really need all that sleep anyway? I don't know, I'm too tired to figure it out.

3:31 PM  

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