THURSDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of Americans routinely sleep fewer than seven hours a night, which affects their concentration and general health, new government research shows.
Insufficient sleep also impairs work performance and the ability to drive safely, found researchers for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which published two sleep studies March 4 in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"Over the last 20 years there has been a decline in overall sleep duration in adults," said lead author of one report, Lela McKnight-Eily, a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention.
Changing lifestyle habits, including longer workdays and late nights on the computer, have pared away much-needed sleep time, she noted. "Within our culture there seems to be a belief that sleep isn't a part of overall essential health," she said.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep for seven to nine hours a night to maintain good health.
But when McKnight-Eily's team studied the sleep habits of 74,571 adults in 12 states, 35.3 percent reported sleeping less than seven hours.
In addition, 48 percent reported snoring, 37.9 percent said they fell asleep at least once during the day the previous month and 4.7 percent admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at least once.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drowsiness or nodding off while driving accounts for 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries a year.
Three percent of drivers in Illinois admitted to nodding off while driving the previous month, compared to 6.4 percent in Hawaii and Texas.
Hawaii also reported the highest number of people with poor sleep behaviors, the researchers noted.
For the other report, a group led by Anne Wheaton, a researcher i
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