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Tips for the sleep-deprived

BridgeTower Media Newswires//April 21, 2010

Tips for the sleep-deprived

BridgeTower Media Newswires//April 21, 2010//

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For years I wrestled with bouts of insomnia. I spent many nights tossing and turning and anxiously watching the clock waiting for sleep to come. Then, miraculously, the insomnia stopped about a year ago, as if by magic. For the first time in a long while, I slept soundly and woke up feeling refreshed and full of energy.

But then, in one of life’s ironic twists, as I was blissfully enjoying eight solid hours of peaceful slumber, my wife and I had a baby. Now, of course, sleeping through the night is pretty much out of the question, as there are diapers to change and crying fits to soothe. For the past few months, I’ve walked around in a sleep-deprived daze, oftentimes fighting to stay awake during the day. And it appears I’m not alone.

According to a 2009 study by the National Sleep Foundation, the number of people experiencing sleep problems has increased 13 percent since 2001. The number of Americans who get less than six hours of shut-eye jumped from 13 percent to 20 percent. Not surprisingly, one-third of the people polled said they’re losing sleep over the state of the U.S. economy and personal financial concerns.

Anyone who has struggled to get through the day after a sleepless night knows how difficult it can be. It’s well documented that inadequate sleep negatively impacts health and well-being. But our country’s growing insomnia problem also has a big negative effect on worker productivity. Sleep-deprived workers often have difficulty concentrating, learning and communicating. They also can be moody and grouchy, which can strain work relationships.

Sleeplessness also poses a safety risk and is often cited as a cause of industrial and motor vehicle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that each year, drowsy drivers are responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities.

And to exacerbate the problem, a growing number of U.S. workers are logging longer hours and taking their work home with them. In an NSF poll taken last year, the average workday is nine hours and 28 minutes, coupled with a an average round-trip commute of 47 minutes. And 20 percent of the poll’s respondents indicating working 10 or more extra hours per week at home.

It leaves little time for exercise, time with family and friends, or just vegging out on the couch — all crucial parts of staying happy and healthy.

I’ve been told that most babies start sleeping on a regular schedule after about three months, so I’m hoping I have only another few weeks of feeling like a bleary-eyed zombie. If you’re struggling with insomnia, visit for tips to improve your sleep.

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