Feature Archive

Sleepless in America

Insomnia

WebMD Feature

Wake up, America! Most of you are not getting enough sleep. According to a recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 40 percent of adults are so sleepy during the day it interferes with their daily activities; 62 percent reported feeling drowsy while driving; and 27 percent dozed off while driving during the past year.

And it's not just the big people who aren't meeting their nightly sleep requirements: Sixty percent of children under the age of 18 complained of daytime tiredness last year, and 15 percent reported falling asleep at school.

The Cost of Sleep Deprivation

In the worst cases, lack of sleep -- which impairs functions such as memory, reaction time, and alertness -- can have serious, even deadly results. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy drivers cause at least 100,000 crashes annually. For others, sleepiness doesn't have such dire consequences, but it does make its mark: Tired people aren't as productive at work or school, or as effective at parenting and other interpersonal relationships. They're also at risk for increased health problems. A recent study cited by the National Sleep Foundation showed that people with chronic insomnia are more at risk for several kinds of psychiatric problems and make greater use of healthcare services.