Sleep Deprivation

June 26, 1998 • Volume 8, Issue 24
What's keeping Americans up at night?
By Adriel Bettelheim

Introduction

Electrodes to monitor brain activity are checked before a sleep test at Nebraska Wesleyan University. (Photo Credit: Ian Doremus, AP/Lincoln Journal-Star)
Electrodes to monitor brain activity are checked before a sleep test at Nebraska Wesleyan University. (Photo Credit: Ian Doremus, AP/Lincoln Journal-Star)

Tens of millions of Americans trudge through the day feeling tired and lethargic because they don't get enough sleep. Studies show that while the average person needs eight to nine hours of sleep each night, most only get seven. The effects are felt in lost worker productivity, fatigue-related transportation accidents, health problems and lower grades and behavioral difficulties in schools. But society is reluctant to deal with its “sleep deficit,” viewing sleep as a luxury and inconsistent with the Information Age's round-the-clock environment. Scientists are trying to raise awareness by publicizing the consequences of sleep deprivation and learning how to treat sleep disorders like insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

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