With our busy lifestyles and work schedules, we tend to fall short on the average hours of sleep required per night, though this is something we may want to consider more.

The percentage of people sleeping less than the recommended hours of sleep is rising due to lifestyle factors related to a modern 24/7 society, such as psychosocial stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of physical activity and excessive electronic media use, among others.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has declared insufficient sleep a “public health problem.” More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.

In addition, the recently released AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s report, Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement, revealed that drivers missing 2-3 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period more than quadrupled their risk of a crash compared to drivers getting the recommended seven hours of sleep. This is the same crash risk the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration associates with driving over the legal limit for alcohol.
It has been proven that those who sleep less than six hours per day have a 2.4% higher productivity loss compared to those who get roughly 7-9 hours of sleep. Those who sleep less than six hours lose around six working days a year more than workers sleeping eight hours. On an annual basis, the U.S. loses an equivalent of about 1.23 million working days, or 9.9 million working hours.

Employers and individuals can take certain steps to help improve sleep deprivation. A recent Rand Corporation report offers the following options:

• Individuals should set consistent wake-up times, limit the use of electronic items before bedtime, and exercise.
• Employers should recognize the importance of sleep and the employer’s role in its promotion, design and build brighter work spaces, combat workplace psycho social risks, and discourage the extended use of electronic devices.
• Public authorities should support health professionals in providing sleep-related help, encourage employers to pay attention to sleep issues, and introduce later school starting times.