The National Sleep Foundation has found that Americans these days get 6.7 hours of sleep a night on average. The recommendation for sleep is at least eight hours.
If you get less than this, you might be interested in learning why that could be and what the consequences are.
Common Reasons for Sleeping Less
According to CNN, one of the main reasons people these days are sleeping less is the advent of technology.
Many people have cell phones that stay next to their bed at night, enabling them to answer text messages, take phone calls, and read email late at night when they would normally be sleeping.
The line between work and personal life is barely there anymore, since bosses know their employees have access to email and internet at all hours. Plus, as Psychology Today reports, Americans work more than they did a century ago, which is probably why fewer people than ever get at least eight hours of sleep.
Even those who are not exactly considered workaholics can get distracted by technology. Many people stay up late playing video games or surfing the internet. The ability to watch television programs and movies on our own time, not just when they air on TV, also makes it hard to shut off the screen at bedtime. It’s easier to just keep watching episode after episode, despite having an early morning to get up for the next day.
Another reason people are sleeping less in the last decade or so is the stress of the economy. When more people than usual are out of work or not working enough, they might find it difficult to sleep as they add up their mounting bills and try to come up with ways to get by.
Not surprisingly, sleep deprivation is bad for your health. According to a recent study, a lack of sleep can negatively affect the genes in charge of everything from the immune system and metabolism to stress and sleep cycles.
For this reason, people who get less than six hours of sleep a night are at risk for long-term issues, such as:
- Heart disease
If you’re worried about your weight in particular, Babble lists several reasons to get enough sleep. For example, sleep deprivation causes your body to make more of a hormone that increases your appetite. Furthermore, your cravings are increased and your ability to make good decisions is decreased, which can spell trouble when you’re on a diet. You will likely even find that you eat more calories and purchase fattier food at the store when you get too little sleep.
Clearly, increasing the amount of sleep you get is a good idea. You don’t have to go from six hours to eight or nine in one night. Instead, you can simply make it your goal to increase the amount by ten minutes each day. You will likely start seeing health and lifestyle benefits soon as you gradually increase your sleep over time.