ITHACA, N.Y. — About 30% of Ithacans could be experiencing insomnia—and we’re not talking about the cookies.
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The journal Sleep Health has analyzed data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey from 2009 and found that 30.77 percent of Tompkins County residents have reported insufficient sleep for at least 15 out of a total 30 nights. The 15 day cutoff was chosen because it aligns with the criteria doctors use to diagnose insomnia.
Studies suggest that the body requires about eight hours of sleep each night, but Sleep Health’s study revealed that many Americans are not even coming close to that number. There were 432,000 people surveyed from across the country and the research shows that, on average, 40 to 50 percent of counties reported having difficulty sleeping on at least half the nights of the previous month.
While Ithaca’s insomnia report pales in comparison to the 78 percent of people in Jasper County, Texas, who have reported insufficient sleep, it is still a statistic that should be taken seriously.
Harvard University’s website Healthy Sleep suggests that a person’s mood and immune functions are directly linked to sleep, and without enough of it each night the body’s internal functions can become unbalanced. In addition, WebMD reported that nearly one-third of Americans in the National Sleep Foundation’s 2009 poll confessed to nodding off while driving.
The study uncovered a few correlations about sleep and geographic location. For example, some counties that reported insufficient sleep were also some of the most economically depressed in the nation. The study also disproved the assumption that hectic, fast-paced lifestyles would lead to high rates of poor sleep in the nation’s urban areas. Surprisingly, the nation’s biggest cluster of bad sleep ended up in the heart of Appalachia and in a cluster of counties in Ohio, Virginia and Tennessee.
The next step in Sleep Health’s research is to uncover the reasons why so many people are not getting enough sleep. The authors of Sleep Health plan to use this research not as an endpoint, but rather the beginning of a more complete, comprehensive sleep analysis.
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