Good sleep promotes good health. Sleep represents a third of every person’s life and it has a tremendous impact on how we live, function and perform during the other two-thirds of our lives. It is indeed as vital as the air we breathe and the food we eat, especially for those with chronic diseases or compromised immune systems.

Sleep problems, whether in the form of medical disorders or related to work schedules and a 24/7 lifestyle, are pervasive. In America, 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night.

It is estimated that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes. Sleep disorders are common in both men and women; however,       important disparities in prevalence and severity of certain sleep disorders have been identified in minorities and underserved populations.

Additionally, people are chronically sleep deprived as a result of demanding lifestyles and a lack of education about the impact of sleep loss. Sleepiness affects vigilance, reaction times, learning abilities, alertness, mood, hand-eye coordination, and the accuracy of short-term memory. Sleepiness has been identified as the cause of a growing number of on-the-job accidents, automobile crashes and multi-model transportation tragedies.

The odds of being sleep deprived (less than 6 hours a night for adults) has increased significantly over the past 30 years as the lines between work and home have become blurred and digital technology has firmly become part of our lifestyles. National data shows that poor sleep health is a common problem with 25 percent of U.S. adults reporting insufficient sleep or rest at least 15 out of every 30 days. The National Institutes of Health predicts that America’s sleep debt is on the rise and that by the middle of the 21st century more than 100 million Americans will have difficulty falling asleep.

More than 50 million Americans already suffer from over 80 different sleep disorders and another 20 to 30 million suffer intermittent sleep problems each year. At least 25 million

Americans (1 in 5 adults) suffer from sleep apnea, a serious sleep and breathing condition linked to hypertension, cognitive impairment, heart disease and stroke. Chronic insomnia affects at least 10 percent of Americans. Restless legs syndrome, a neurological disorder, affects about 5 percent of the population over age 65. Sleep disorders affect members of every race, socioeconomic class and age group. Despite the high prevalence of sleep disorders, the overwhelming majority of sufferers remain undiagnosed and untreated, creating unnecessary public health and safety problems, as well as increased health care expenses. National surveys show that more than 60 percent of adults have never been asked about the quality of their sleep by a physician, and fewer than 20 percent – have ever initiated such a discussion.

Drowsy driving
Driving a car in the city at night. Traveling on high speed, road lights defocused. View from inside with luminous dashboard

Drowsy driving may be a factor in 20% of all serious motor vehicle crash injuries. A large naturalistic study of 100 drivers and nearly 2 million miles of driving identified sleepiness as factor in 22% of crashes, and 16% of near crashes.

The impact on American life and economy is enormous as sleep deprivation and untreated sleep disorders are estimated to cost over $100 billion annually in lost productivity, medical expenses, sick leave, property, and environmental damage.