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With the Economy Down, Sleeplessness Is Up
Date:3/2/2009

m impact on physical health."

The number of Americans reporting sleep problems has increased 13 percent since 2001. Conversely, the number of people who report getting eight hours of sleep on a regular basis has decreased, from 38 percent in 2001 to 28 percent today. Also, only a third of all Americans who report sleep problems also report that they've discussed their sleep problems with their doctor, Vitiello said.

"Given the ongoing economic crisis and personal financial stresses many Americans are experiencing, the National Sleep Foundation encourages Americans to maintain or to develop good sleep, exercise and diet habits to stay healthy and productive, particularly in difficult times," Vitiello said. "Remember that good sleep is essential to good health and is not negotiable. If you think you have a sleep problem you should speak with your physician."

Dr. Bruce Nolan, medical director of the Sleep Center at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, said sleep is sensitive to things that go on during the day.

"Things that go on during the day can disturb people's nights, and things that go on at night can disturb people during the day," Nolan said.

People should try to get seven hours or more sleep a night, Nolan said. If you have problems sleeping, you should seek medical help.

"Most sleep specialists feel if the problem be handled without sleeping medications, that's the first choice," he said. "If it cannot be handled without medication, then the choice is therapy and medication to address the issue that is disturbing the sleep."

The U.S. National Institutes of Health estimates that some 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder or intermittent sleep problem. Women experience the problems more often than men, and sleep difficulties increase with age.

Among other findings in the poll:

  • 46 percent said their sleep needs aren't be
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