Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Sleep Debt, Daytime Sleepiness Common Among American Adults

Nearly 30% of adults have trouble falling or staying asleep, a study in JAMA Network Open has found. The results also indicate that more than 30% of adults have at least 1 hour of sleep debt a week (get 1 hour less of sleep than their bodies need), and nearly 10% have at least 2 hours of sleep debt a week.

“Given that emerging evidence suggests that … sleep debt could be associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular health, and mood disorders, more evidence is needed on the trend in sleep debt over time and the benefits of reducing its risk, even in those without substantive sleep deprivation,” wrote Hongkun Di, M.D., of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and colleagues.

The researchers analyzed data from 9,004 adults aged 20 years and older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2017 to 2020. The participants had responded to questions that allowed researchers to investigate the sleep-wake timing on workdays and free days. For participants who were retired, unemployed, or students, weekdays were considered workdays and weekends were considered free days.

Participants slept a mean of 7.59 hours a day on workdays and 8.24 hours a day on free days. Many participants also reported experiencing sleep problems as follows:

  • 30.5% had 1 hour or more of sleep debt a week.
  • 9.75% had 2 hours or more of sleep debt a week.
  • 29.8% had trouble sleeping.
  • 27.2% had daytime sleepiness.

Furthermore 46.5% experienced 1 hour or more of social jet lag, which occurs when there is a discrepancy between a person’s biological time, which is determined by the person’s internal body clock, and social times, which are dictated by social obligations such as school or work.

On workdays, 23.1% of participants slept less than 7 hours and 25.4% went to sleep at midnight or later. On free days, 12.9% of participants slept less than 7 hours and 40.9% went to sleep at midnight or later.

“More research is needed to determine long-term trends and further elucidate the importance of instability in sleep timing for public health,” Di and colleagues wrote.

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Sleep Loss Found to Exacerbate Spread of Toxic Protein Associated With Alzheimer’s Disease.”

(Image: iStock/fizkes)

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