You may already know that difficulty sleeping – meaning falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early, or some combination of these – is a rampant problem for many Americans. A study of over 7,000 workers earlier this month reported that nearly a quarter (23 percent) had some form of insomnia at least three times a week during the previous month. That translates into a big impact at work: Insomniacs lost the equivalent of nearly 8 days of work each year as a result of their impaired sleep. What was perhaps most surprising about the study is how sleep deprivation affects productivity: Because most of us don’t treat chronic sleep deprivation as an illness worth staying home for, we still come to work even when we’re dragging from too little sleep – but we definitely don’t perform at the level we should (what’s called “presenteeism”). Add that up, and it totals a loss of over $63 billion from the US economy annually.
Insomnia is a notoriously intractable problem, but there are a few methods that seem to help most people. The website CureTogether.com crunches data from a wide variety of people about a range of health issues to see what real people say helps them most. Good solutions for easing insomnia include exercise; turning off the TV and reading; sleeping in a dark room; getting rid of caffeine; melatonin and other options. – Lorie A. Parch
TELL US: What do you do to ease insomnia?
Photo: Courtesy of the National Institutes of Health