Sleep research that will keep you awake

Posted March 08, 2012, at 8:45 a.m.
Metro Creative

It’s National Sleep Awareness Week, a good time to look at some related research that has been released lately.

The National Sleep Foundation just came out with the results of its annual poll on the nation’s sleep habits. This year’s survey focused on transportation workers. Among the key findings: “11 percent of pilots, train operators, bus, taxi, and limo drivers and 8 percent of truck drivers as well as 7 percent of non-transportation workers are ‘sleepy.’ ”

Older people, in turns out, get plenty of sleep. Contrary to anecdotal reports, a study published in the journal Sleep says that older people actually have more satisfactory sleep than young adults do.

Research in the journal Sleep Medicine found that caffeine affects night owls and early birds differently. Among the 50 college students who participated, those who were morning people were more likely to have their night’s sleep disrupted (waking after they’d initially fallen asleep) by consuming caffeine during the day. Those who were night owls could consume caffeine without waking up during the night.

Meanwhile, there’s a new study on sleeping pills that found some possible links to cancer and death. (The study has been criticized for what some say is flawed methodology.)

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly, but that more than a third of us sleep less than seven hours a night. Too little sleep is associated with daytime drowsiness and with unintentionally falling asleep in the daytime, including when behind the wheel. People who chronically get too little sleep may suffer “self-reported anxiety, depressive symptoms, and frequent mental and physical distress,” according to the CDC.

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