What you’re doing in bed may not be healthy

Got your attention right? Sorry about the false advertising but we aren’t talking about what you probably thought we were going to talk about, we’re talking about sleep.

A new poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that less than half of us sleep well each night and 25% say that we never or rarely get a good nights’ week during the workweek. That has huge implications both for traffic to and from work as well as for accidents on the job and productivity, not to mention what it’s doing to our health and all the money we end up spending on healthcare to feel better.

The poll found some other interesting data, not just in the US but in Canada, Mexico, Japan, UK and Germany.

“Japan and the United States report the least amount of sleep. Japanese and Americans report sleeping about 30 to 40 minutes less on workdays than those in the other countries surveyed, averaging 6 hours and 22 minutes and 6 hours and 31 minutes of sleep, respectively. Two-thirds of Japanese (66%) say they sleep less than 7 hours on work nights, compared to 53% of Americans, 39% in the United Kingdom, 36% of Germans, 30% of Canadians and 29% of Mexicans. One in five from the United States (21%), Japan (19%) and the United Kingdom (18%) report sleeping less than six hours a night during the work week, about twice the rate of the other countries (11% Mexico, 10% Germany, 7% Canada,).

Roughly nine out of ten in Mexico (92%), Germany (90%) and the United Kingdom (86%) and threefourths in the United States (78%), and Canada (78%) agree they feel more relaxed if their bedroom has a fresh, pleasant scent.  Moreover, the majority of nationalities surveyed (65%-79%) agree they take steps to make sure their bedrooms smell the way they want.

The poll found some intriguing cultural differences in the bedtime rituals and habits of the six countries. For example, more than one-half of Mexicans (62%) and nearly half of Americans (47%) meditate or prayin the hour before sleep.

Four in ten (43%) of those in the United Kingdom drink a soothing beverage such as tea before bed and almost one-third (30%) of the country reported sleeping naked.

Perhaps the most common bedtime experience is television.  At least two-thirds (66%-80%) of people in all countries surveyed watch TV in the hour before bed.”

That last one is especially interesting if what sleep experts say about the waves from the television (not to mention the nature of the content) interfere with proper sleep patterns.

The study goes on to say:

“This groundbreaking poll suggests that chronic sleep deprivation is a significant global health problem,” says Russell Rosenberg, PhD, Director of Research and Investigator at NeuroTrials Research, NSF Immediate Past Chairman and member of the NSF 2013 International Bedroom Poll expert panel. “The National Sleep Foundation International Bedroom Poll compels us to conduct more research and devise unique solutions to get everyone to take sleep seriously.  Relax, turn off the mobile phone and TV, and create a more pleasant bed time routine.  Setting the stage for good sleep can change your life.” National Sleep Foundation Healthy Sleep Advice To improve your sleep, try the following sleep tips:Exercise regularly. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.Go to sleep and wake at the same time every day, and avoid spending more time in bed than needed.Use your bedroom only for sleep to strengthen the association between your bed and sleep. It may help to remove work materials, computers and televisions from your bedroom.Save your worries for the daytime. If concerns come to mind, write them in a “worry book” so you can address those issues the next day.If you cannot sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, or “stop breathing” episodes in your sleep, contact your health care professional for a sleep apnea screening.

Access and read the entire study at http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-2013-international-bedroom-poll

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