of the survey respondents said they felt tired or "not up to par"
during the day and 17 percent said they felt this way just about
The repercussions of not having a good night's
sleep are numerous and can be serious, even life threatening. Sixty
percent of adults licensed to drive said they had driven while
drowsy over the past year, the highest rate since the poll was first
conducted in 1999. Four percent said they had had an accident or
near accident due to drowsiness while behind the wheel. If
extrapolated to the rest of the population, this would mean that
about 115 million people felt tired behind the wheel while more than
7 million drivers had an accident or near accident due to
sleepiness, the researchers said.
Almost one-third of working adults said they had
missed work or made mistakes at work because of problems sleeping in
the past three months.
The great sleep divide also takes a toll on
relationships. More than three quarters (77 percent) of adults with
spouses or partners said their partner had a sleep-related problem,
most commonly snoring. Because of their partner's sleep issues,
these respondents lost an average of 49 minutes of sleep a night --
or 300 hours a year. Nearly one-quarter of adults with partners said
they have sex less often or have less interest in sex because they
are so tired. One third of this group reported problems in the
relationship because of their partner's sleep problems. Many sleep
separately as a result of the disruption, the survey found.
Nine out 10 adults said their most popular
activity in the hour before going to sleep was watching television,
while only 27 percent said they had sex.
The poll also found that poor health was often
associated with poor sleep. Adults with at least one common medical
condition, such as high blood pressure or arthritis, are less likely
to sleep well and are about twice as likely to feel drowsy during
In line with other studies, this poll found that
nearly two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) are overweight or obese
-- and that this condition contributes to sleep problems. Compared
to adults of normal weight, people who are obese are more likely to
sleep less than six hours each weeknight (18 percent vs. 11 percent)
and often feel sleepy during the day (37 percent vs. 26 percent).
Overweight and obese individuals were also nearly
six times as likely to suffer from sleep apnea than normal-weight
individuals. According to the report, more than a quarter (26
percent) of respondents were at risk for sleep apnea, a condition
marked by disruptions in breathing while a person is asleep. The
condition is associated with high blood pressure and stroke.
More than half the people surveyed take naps at
least once a week, and one-third said they nap two or more times
each week. The average duration of a nap is 50 minutes for those who
nap more frequently. Sleep experts recommend naps lasting 20 to 45
Most Americans do not use anything to help them
fall asleep, although 11 percent of the poll respondents said they
used alcohol a few nights a week. About 80 percent of adults said
they drink at least one caffeinated beverage daily and one-quarter
of those people reported consuming four or more such drinks daily.
Experts recommend avoiding both alcohol and caffeine before going to
"People need to make sleep a priority," Wieber
said. "If sleep is not satisfying for whatever reason, you should
seek medical help. Sleep problems are not a fact of life."