You're Not Sleeping Enough, Says the CDC
Plus, the simple way to sleep better and longer
A third of Americans aren't getting enough sleep, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Big shocker. Between gunning for that big promotion at work and getting your money's worth on ClassPass, who the heck has time for a full seven hours, anyway?
"The biggest culprit is really just that people don't value sleep," says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating sleep disorders. "People are proud of having an 'I'll sleep when I'm dead' philosophy, but sleep allows you to be productive and healthy in the long-run."
The report included a survey of over 400,000 Americans and found that 35 percent of people clock less than seven hours of sleep, which ups their risk for a whole host of ills like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, stress and even death. Yikes.
The more you obsess over success, the worse it gets. "Productivity demands are just so high, and people are connected to devices for work and social purposes around the clock," says Kennedy. "Those boundaries have disintegrated, and it's eroding sleep quality and quantity." (See: Social Media Use Is Screwing Up Our Sleep Patterns.) Plus, after a long day of sitting in transit, meetings, and happy hours, your body simply isn't ready to sleep.
See, it's all about allowing yourself to transition from that hyper-busy state to a more relaxing one. "Set an alarm that reminds you to unplug before bed," says Kennedy. Then, try some stretching or light yoga to help lull you to sleep. (We like these relaxing yoga breathing techniques.)
And if you really need to stay connected for one reason or another, make sure to cut back on the blue light emitted by your phone and computer screen. (This type of light tells your body to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy.) Apps like f.lux adjust your screens light based on the time of day, meaning you'll get a more golden hue in the twilight hours that won't screw up your sleep pattern.
Ultimately, though, nothing is better than giving yourself a classic sleep sanctuary, says Kennedy. "A white noise machine, an old-fashioned book, and some good sheets are key," she says. You're at your best when you're running on a full tank, so invest more at night and you'll be able to invest more during the day.