A 24/7 society may offer endless opportunities for activities, but according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2001 Sleep in America study, it may also encourage “unhealthy and sometimes antisocial lifestyles.”

The study found that the majority of adults (63 percent) did not get the recommended eight hours of sleep. Nearly one-third of adults said they slept fewer than seven hours a night during the week.

According to a 2001 issue of the British Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, sleep-deprivation can be as harmful as alcohol impairment, Gallup reported. The article noted that getting fewer than six hours of sleep can affect people’s reactions, coordination and judgment and could pose a risk for driving and operating machinery.

A December 2001 Gallup poll revealed that about one in six Americans (16 percent) reported getting only five hours of sleep nightly, putting them in the high-risk category.

The National Sleep Foundation reported that eight hours of sleep are necessary for good health, safety and optimum performance.

Richard Gelula, NSF executive director, said in a foundation release that they have a hard road ahead of them.

“The good news is that many Americans say they don’t want to give up any more sleep in spite of their hectic lives,” Gelula said. “We have our work cut out for us to educate Americans that a good night’s sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.”

NSF reported that there was a direct correlation between hours worked and its negative impact on sleep.

Twenty-two percent of adults were so sleepy during the day that it affected their daily activities, according to the NSF study.

NSF comparisons between work and sleep correspond with Gallup figures which showed a relationship between stress and sleep.

“Those who report stress in their daily lives are more likely to report low levels of sleep than are those who rarely experience stress,” Gallup reported in its December 2001 poll.

Those who said they experienced stress frequently reported getting less than six hours and 20 minutes of sleep nightly. Among the group that rarely or never experienced stress, 42 percent said they usually got more than eight hours of sleep, Gallup reported.

NSF also found that adults reported spending less time in leisure and social activities and sleeping than they did five years ago.

If pressed for time, 25 percent said they would give up leisure activities. The study showed that nearly as many would give up time with family and friends (19 percent) as would give up sleep (17 percent) and sex (16 percent).

What were respondents least likely to give up due to lack of time? Job-related work (33 percent).

Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.

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