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Sleep…Not Just a Luxury…It’s A Must!

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Many of us have heard the joking expression regarding a “Zombie Apocalypse”…..and we’re living in it!  Very recent research put out by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta) demonstrated more than 83 Million Americans are moving around the country on any given day without having obtained the minimal recommendation of sleep of seven hours per night.

There are two very interesting components to these observations:  1.)  sleep loss opens each of us up to markedly increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cognitive decline and other metabolic diseases and 2.) the split between those who do and those who do not get enough sleep was along economic, education and ethnic lines.

According to Dr. Anne Wheaton, an epidemiologist at the CDC, “People just aren’t putting sleep on the top of their priority list.  People know they need to eat right, get exercise, quit smoking, but sleep just isn’t at the top of their board.” She added, “And maybe they aren’t aware of the impact sleep can have on your health.  It doesn’t just make you sleepy but it can also affect your health and safety.”

In the research noted, which was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report , more than 1 in 3 Americans is getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night.  The study addressed people from all 50 states with nearly one half million surveyed.  Oddly, sleep patterns were predictable in states and in regions….people in South Dakota receiving the most sleep with nearly 72% getting 7 hours or more and folks in Hawaii getting the least with only 56% receiving 7 hours or more.  By region….Americans in the southeast received the least amount of sleep and those in the Great Plains states receiving the most.

Interestingly, racial and educational patterns emerged also with married college graduates getting the most sleep and people either widowed, divorced or separated getting the least amounts of sleep.  Racially, there was again an interesting pattern with people receiving 7 hours of sleep per night:  66.8% of whites, 65.5% of Hispanics, 62.5% of Asians, 59,6% of Indians and Alaskans, 54.2% of Blacks and 53.7% of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

What’s the most remarkable about the national patterns observed is that these geographic patterns for amounts of sleep  follow the same patterns for obesity, diabetes and death rates from heart disease and stroke.  Simply a remarkable finding but one which coincides with many a prior study demonstrating similar findings.  Even cancer prevalence is being shown to affiliate with sleep loss over any extended period.

So if you’re one of those terribly busy people who has made the statement, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”….that lack of sleep may just do that for you!  Sleep…it’s truly not a luxury but an absolute necessity if we hope to live healthier, more comfortable and longer lives!


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