Consumer Reports Sleep Survey

August 12, 2008 8:14:44 AM PDT
If you didn't get enough sleep last night, join the club. Americans are sleeping two hours less per night on average than they did a century ago. Consumer Reports cites one study that says, people who slept for only six hours a night for two weeks performed as poorly on cognitive tests as those who stayed up for 24 hours straight. Lack of sleep has also been tied to weight gain and increased health problems. So there are a lot of reasons to try to get some good shut eye.

Tod Marks, with Consumer Reports says, if you're not sleeping well, you're not alone, according to a Consumer Reports' survey: "America is the midst of a sleep epidemic. Fifty percent of those surveyed couldn't sleep the night before they participated in our survey."

Respondents found prescription medications the most effective treatment. But 63% experienced side effects:

Dizziness - 13%

Memory loss - 15%

Dependency - 24%

And daytime drowsiness - 37%

And in another Consumer Reports' survey of people with chronic sleeping problems, 7% experienced bizarre side effects like sleepwalking, sleep eating, and even sleep driving. Those are rare conditions but very serious ones.

Sound machines were the most effective non-drug treatment in the survey. 70% who used them found them effective. Consumer Reports tested three on the white-noise setting. Tod Marks: "Their favorite was the Brookstone Tranquil Moments Sound Therapy System. The downside is its price - around 130 dollars." That's a lot to pay for sleep.

Looking for a cheaper way to improve your sleep? Consumer Reports suggest turning on a fan or listening to the air conditioner when you sleep. Both sound similar to sound machines on their white noise setting.

They also recommend a short, regular, relaxing routine leading up to bed. Make the bedroom quiet, dark, comfortable, and not too hot or cold.

And for all you busybodies out there, keep your phone/PDA/Blackberry AWAY from your nightstand, so you're not tempted to look at it or use it when you should be sleeping.



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