More than a third of American adults don't get at least seven hours of sleep a night, according to new CDC data.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society both recommend that adults ages 18 to 60 get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Sleeping less than that amount has been linked to health issues such as increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and mental health issues.
The new findings, published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, analyzed 2014 data on more than 440,000 adults in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Sleep and your health
Overall, the data show that just 65% of U.S. adults get at least seven hours of sleep, and 12% of respondents reported sleeping five hours or less a day. Rates of adequate sleep were lower among blacks than whites or Hispanics. Being married increased the likelihood of getting enough sleep, as did having a college degree.
Rates of adequate sleep varied by state: the southeastern United States had the lowest rates, while the Great Plains region had the highest. Specifically, after adjusting for age, the states with the highest percentage of residents who slept at least seven hours a night were:
- South Dakota (71.6%);
- Colorado (71.5%); and
- Minnesota (70.8%).
Meanwhile, the states with the lowest rates of adequate sleep were:
- Hawaii (56.1%);
- Kentucky (60.3%); and
- Maryland (61.1%).
Nancy Collop, director of the Emory Sleep Center at Emory University School of Medicine, says the new data are worrying. Without adequate sleep, "you don't function as well," she explains, adding "Your ability to pay attention is reduced, and it can have serious, long-term side effects" such as changing your metabolism "for the worse."
Anne Wheaton, an epidemiologist at CDC and an author of the study, says the demographic trends in the data suggest certain communities have a harder time getting enough sleep. "Densely populated neighborhoods might have more noise and light," she notes, adding that African Americans are more likely to live in such areas.
Wheaton also says that life stressors in those communities—such as poverty and racism—could be making things worse. "If you don't have that internal feeling of security whether financial, physical, or emotional, it will be harder to fall asleep" (Chen, "Shots," NPR, 2/19; McKay, Wall Street Journal, 2/18; CDC release, 2/18; Liu et al., Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2/19; McKay, Reuters, 2/18).