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Bad Sleep Is the Pandemic We Continue To Ignore

A third of Americans sleep poorly says CDC
Almost 85 million American adults don't get enough sleep and it is hurting their health

I have written a lot about the public health crisis in the United States. Americans spent $3.6 trillion in 2018 alone and that number is growing over $200B a year. This means that already, almost 18% of the entire US GDP is devoted to healthcare.

The problem isn’t just a macroeconomic issue, it is literally killing Americans and decimating personal finances. Well over half a million Americans seek bankruptcy protections due to medical bills and lost incomes from protracted health issues and treatments every year.

The problems are huge and the is proving to be one of our most intractable problems. Healthcare affects everyone and the special interests on both sides have huge stakes in the battle. So, healthcare remains a top political issue that is only going to get worse in this presidential election year.

One way to being to address it is to find large issues that we can get bipartisan support on. I nominate American’s sleeplessness pandemic as a candidate.

According to the non-partisan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), a third of adults in the US get less than the seven hours of sleep recommended by experts. According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report poor sleep quality and quantity is correlated with diabetes, coronary disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and obesity. Poor sleep is also a symptom of and cause of stress.

As of this writing, headlines are rightly focused on the 19 million cases of seasonal inflluenza this flu season and the thirteenth US Coronavirus patient. These area critical, major healthcare challenges, that is certain. But with approximately 85 million American adults suffering the ill effects of poor sleep, this issue also deserves attention.

Wayne Giles M.D. is the director of the Division of Population Health at the CDC. Dr. Giles writes that “As a nation we are not getting enough sleep. Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.”

Experts recommend behavior changes, prioritizing healthy sleep habits and addressing issues that interfere with sleep like nighttime disturbances, poor bedding and chronic pain or snoring.

As Baby Boomer age in large numbers, they are especially prone to sleep issues. As we age, our sleep can deteriorate due to a myriad of issues including changes in lifestyle or employment, family and financial stresses, decreases in activity increased and chronic pain. So, seniors and the caretakers and medical professionals who care for them should prioritize senior sleep health.

Programs which educate people about sleep quality are easier to implement and generally cheaper than other, also important, healthcare policy programs. The CDC recommends that caregivers, employers and healthcare workers can prioritize sleep problems. Individuals must also prioritize good sleep habits and sleep health. Employer policies and corporate wellness programs can play a big role in encouraging sleep and data shows that improved sleep will directly impact employer healthcare costs and employee productivity and hob satisfaction.

Charles Laverty

Charles Laverty is CEO of Nuzuna Zone Fitness in Costa Mesa in California. Charles has served as CEO or on the board of several healthcare and fitness related companies over the last few decades including InfusionCare and Curaflex. He is also an active commentator on healthcare public policy and business and political topics. Inc. Magazine, in association with Merrill Lynch and Ernst & Young, once awarded me the US Turnaround Entrepreneur of the Year award. Now I am building Nuzuna Zone Fitness which I founded in 2018 and is already two dozens locations open or under development.

1 Comment

  1. TransmissionFrame February 16, 2020

    Kinda get tried of everyone addressing only the symptoms of a broken society instead of talking about the causative factors. As humans we exploit other humans and call this our living; how we make money and put a roof over our head. Sleep disturbances are a result of many things. Medications can cause a disturbance. Unfair practices in our environment weather it be work related, or people just acting like little meanies in our family which district our sleep. Then you have distractions we plan for as so to not ]feel the days pain, thus try to time travel through our day so we dont feel the pain from others. You will get sleep when others do their part non building a good community, a good set of laws, and bystanders standing up top others to curtain the ones next to them when they over step their bounds thus interfering with others lives. Proper interaction, responsibility is the cure to all illness. Sleep disturbances; one nights irregular sleep takes a while week to make up for. This article is wrong; step is required for about 9 hours a day (not 7 as mentioned here by this writer). And it is like eating. You are not recommended to eat a days of food in one sitting nor are you recommended to sleep all at one time. It is suggested to take naps during the day so you are more vital throughout the day. In other countries employers make thier workers take off part of the day during the middle of their shift not only for a nap, but also deal with everyday things we each encounter so when we come back to work we are not worried about other things.


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