Sleep, like exercise and nutrition, is a pillar of health. To live a healthy, happy life, the CDC recommends adults get 7-9 hours of rest each night. However, many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep and suffer from chronic fatigue.
There are many risks to getting insufficient sleep at night. When it comes to our economy alone, sleeping disorders affect the productivity of workers and have cost our country $63 billion. Besides that, a lack of sleep can lead to a number of health problems and hinder our well-being.
In this guide, we’ll cover all things sleep— touching on information about dreams, sleep disorders, various sleep studies, and tips to help you get better shut-eye.
General Sleep Statistics
Your circadian rhythm is delicate— handle it with care! Several studies report the dangers of going without sleep, as well as how important it really is to get an adequate amount. While sleep habits may vary, our need for sleep does not.
Here are a few facts that will make you want to lie down for a quick nap:
- In a recent study, 75% of pilots reported severe fatigue while flying.
- During REM sleep, chemicals in your brain paralyze you, so you don’t act out your dreams.
- The average person falls asleep in 7 minutes.
- Each sleep cycle takes an average of 90 minutes.
- Your body temperature drops 1-3 degrees for sleep.
- People tend to adopt the side-sleeping position as they get older, and as their BMI increases.
- 63 percent of Americans sleep on their side, 14 percent on their back, and 16 percent on their stomachs.
- The average amount of sleep most Americans get is 6.8 hours within a 24-hour period, and only one-third of Americans get the proper amount of sleep each night.
- In 1910, people slept an average of 9 hours.
Parasomnias and Dreams
Dreams are a mysterious subject. Historians and psychologists have tried to understand and interpret them. They play an important part in our stories. Everybody dreams, but most of us don’t remember every dream. Hopefully, you’ll remember this list!
- 48 percent of characters in our dreams are people we know by name.
- Processing memories into a dream takes an average of 7 days.
- The earliest dreams recorded were documented on clay tablets 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia.
- Every single person dreams. If you think you don’t, you’ve simply forgotten them.
- You can have 3-6 different dreams in one night.
- Hallucinations occur in 75 percent of people living with sleep paralysis.
- Those suffering from depression dream up to 3-4 times more than average.
- Today, 75 percent of us dream in color. Before color TV was invented, only 15 percent did.
- Blind people can still see visuals in their dreams, but only if they weren’t born blind.
- You can’t create faces in your dreams; you only dream about people you’ve seen before, even if only very briefly.
- If you are snoring, you’re probably not dreaming.
- Recurring dreams occur in 60-75 percent of the population. Most common recurring dreams are being attacked or chased, being late, missing an exam, or losing control of a car.
- In a man’s dream, nearly 70 percent of people who appear are also men; meanwhile, a woman’s will contain roughly an equal number of both genders.
- 8.4 million people are prone to sleepwalking, and most of them are children.
- 5 percent of adults report talking in their sleep.
- This study found that 7.6 percent of the general population, 28.3 percent of students, and 31.9 percent of psychiatric patients have sleep paralysis.
- Parasomnias affect nearly 10% of Americans.
- Women have more nightmares than men.
While many of us feel consistently tired, there are things you can do to end your excessive daytime sleepiness. Instead of opting for melatonin supplements or sleeping pills, try getting better rest by modifying your diet, exercising regularly, and keeping track of your daily Zzzs.
- 30 minutes of exercise correlates with 14 extra minutes of sleep per night.
- Approximately 41 percent of adults who habitually get less than 8 hours of sleep report skipping exercise.
- Magnesium is one of the best minerals to induce drowsiness. Tired? Grab a banana.
- Sleeplessness can make you hungry because you produce more ghrelin, a hunger hormone.
- Some herbal teas are proven to be just as useful as over-the-counter sleep aids— without the negative side effects.
- On an average day, 85 percent of Americans consume caffeine.
- Drinking coffee before bed can delay your REM cycle by up to 40 mins.
- 15 percent of adults between the ages of 18-29 years regularly track their sleeping patterns using a sleep tracker.
Information from the National Highways Traffic Safty Administration shows drowsy driving has cost the American public more than just the safety of their roads. As our lives get busier and busier and sleep gets shoved to the wayside, the number of those afflicted by sleep disorders continues to rise.
- There are over 70 sleep disorders, and 20 percent of Americans have at least one form of sleep disorder.
- Rare disorders, such as Morvan’s syndrome, can cause a person to go without sleep for several months.
- 40 to 80 percent of people with autism struggle with sleep disturbances, including waking early in the morning, frequent nighttime waking, falling asleep, daytime drowsiness, and irregular sleep patterns.
- 65 percent to 90 percent of adult patients with major depression experience some kind of sleep problem— usually, insomnia.
- 80 percent of pregnant women experience chronic insomnia due to an uncomfortable change in sleeping habits and swelling irritations, etc.
- 90 million Americans snore and 37 million do it regularly.
- 80 percent of mild and severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea cases are undiagnosed.
- 1 in 4 children, including infants, suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
- Sleep Apnea increases the risk of heart disease by 3 times more than those without the disorder.
- For every 1 to 2 time-zones an individual travels, that individual will need 1 day with natural light exposure to recuperate.
- Jet lag is more intense when traveling east because you’re “losing” time.
Restless Legs Syndrome
- An estimated 10 percent of US adults are affected by Restless Legs Syndrome— although, it’s more prevalent in women than men.
- 2-3 percent of adults have moderate to severe RLS, which translates to over 5 million sufferers.
- 80 percent of people with RLS also experience periodic limb movement— a disorder where you uncontrollably jerk your legs, and sometimes arms, during sleep every 15 to 40 seconds.
- Roughly around 200,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide are affected by narcolepsy.
- Close to 60 percent of those affected by narcolepsy have been misdiagnosed with one of three conditions: depression, insomnia, or obstructive sleep apnea.
- Narcolepsy has cost 30 to 37 percent of employees their jobs, and 9 percent of narcoleptics are currently unemployed.
Stress and Sleep
Apart from sleep deprivation, stress takes a major toll on our physical and mental health. Stress can be a result of not getting enough sleep, or stem from the worries of sleep troubles.
- 37 percent of adults report fatigue or feeling tired because of stress, while 21 percent report feeling more stress when they get poor sleep.
- Medical professionals who work more than 80-hour work weeks increase their risk of making critical medical oversights by 50 percent.
- Fatigue accounts for 57 percent of all truck driver crashes— according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
- Drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 non-fatal injuries annually in the United States.
The amount of sleep lost by millions of Americans every year is devastating. While many choose to sacrifice sleep to attend or participate in other activities, some must for work-related reasons. The consequences of sleep loss affect the mind and body.
- Sleep problems add an estimated $15.9 billion to national health care costs.
- Only 20 percent of adults say the quality of their sleep is very good or excellent.
- 49 percent of Gen Xers & 43 percent of Millennials say their sleep quality is fair or poor.
- 67 percent of Americans 65 and older get 7 or more hours of sleep per night.
- 87 percent of high school students don’t get enough sleep (8-10 hours of sleep are recommended for teenagers).
- The record for the longest time without sleep is 11 days.
- Car wrecks increase the Monday after Daylight Savings Time.
- 71 percent of adults sleep with or next to their phone.
- 20 percent of Americans report chronic pain disrupting their sleep on a nightly basis.
- Daytime sleepiness affects 18 percent of the global population.
Sleep Needs by Age Group
While there are general recommendations for how much sleep a person needs, it’s best to look at the sleep needs by age group.
- Adult: 7-9 hours
- Teenager: 8-10 hours
- Children (6-12 years): 9-12 hours, including naps
- Children (3-5 years): 10-13 hours, including naps
- Children (1-2 years): 11-14 hours, including naps
- Infants (4-12 months): 12-16 hours, including naps
Short-Term Side Effects
Experiencing sleep deprivation, even only for a day or two, can lead to significant consequences. Below we list the short-term side effects of lack of sleep.
- Poor memory
- Weight gain
- Impairs judgment
- Ages skin
- Weakened immune system
- Discomfort, aches, and pains
- Changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse
- Drowsy driving, accidents, microsleeps
Effects of Chronic Sleep Deprivation
The effects mentioned above can, unfortunately, make it even more difficult to fall asleep. This is why it’s so important to work towards a better night’s sleep sooner rather than later. If you let the sleep deprivation go on treated, it can lead to more long-term effects.
- Depression and mental illness
- Stroke, heart disease, and asthma attack
- Sleep disorders, like insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy
- Severe mood swings