Washington Getting a good night's sleep is hard for many adults and that often means poorer health, lower productivity on the job, more danger on the roads and a less vibrant sex life.
"By 3 to 4 in the afternoon, I'm starting to feel brain-drained and I need that caffeine to pick me back up again," said Becky Mcerien, 50, of Philadelphia.
She gets about 6.5 hours of sleep a night -- slightly less than the adult average of 6.9 hours reported by the National Sleep Foundation.
Many experts say adults need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
A poll for the foundation, released today, indicates that three-quarters of adults say they frequently have a sleep problem, such as waking during the night or snoring.
Most people ignore the problem and few think they actually have one. Only half of those polled were able to say they slept well on most nights.
Richard Gelula, the foundation's CEO, said there's a link between sleep and quality of life.
"People who sleep well, in general, are happier and healthier," he said. "But when sleep is poor or inadequate, people feel tired or fatigued, their social and intimate relationships suffer, work productivity is negatively affected, and they make our roads more dangerous by driving while sleepy and less alert."
Symptoms of a sleep problem include difficulty falling asleep, waking a lot during the night, waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep, waking up feeling unrefreshed, snoring, unpleasant feelings in the legs or pauses in breathing.
The study found:
- Six in 10 adult motorists said they have driven while drowsy in the past year; 4 percent reported that they have had an accident or near-accident because they were too tired or actually fell asleep while driving.
- Three-fourths said their partner has a sleep problem, and the most common is snoring.
- When disturbed by a bed partner's problems, the other partner loses an average of 49 minutes of sleep a night -- or 300 hours a year.
- Seven in 10 people said their doctor has never asked them about their sleep.
- More than half of respondents nap at least once a week; one-third report napping two or more times.
- Roughly one-fourth of respondents who have partners report that their sexual relationship has been hurt because they have been too sleepy. They had sex less often or lost interest in having sex because they were too tired.
- Older respondents are more likely to report getting a good night's sleep every night or almost every night.
The poll, conducted by WB&A Market Research, used a random sample of 1,506 adults who were interviewed over the phone between Sept. 20 and Nov. 7, 2004. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.