Curing Insomnia

Sleep deprivation can make you careless, vulnerable to illness -- and it can accelerate aging.
Eye-Opening Facts

More than 100 million Americans of all ages fail to get a good night's sleep, at least occasionally. And we are suffering for it: from heart disease to depression to "accelerated" aging, the latest condition tied to sleeplessness. Yet bypassing bedtime is considered a virtue in corporate America, where high-powered executives crow about their five or fewer hours of sleep.

Though the average adult gets 6 hours and 58 minutes of Zzzs nightly, we actually need at least one hour more, sleep experts say. Only 35 percent reach the desired goal of eight hours.

Starting at age 40, our deep, restorative sleep begins to decrease. Shut-eye becomes disrupted due to medications, pain, arthritis, and other health problems. Our internal clocks also send us to bed and wake us up earlier. Yet while sleep may be tougher to get, our need for it doesn't decrease.

Even the sleep we do get isn't much to boast about: Two-thirds of us complain about having insomnia a few nights or more a week, reports the latest National Sleep Foundation poll. The complaints: waking up unrefreshed, struggling to fall asleep, rousing repeatedly during the night, or rising early and being unable to return to sleep. At least 42 percent of Americans are so sleep-deprived that it harms their work and relationships.

Continued on page 2:  The Benefits of Sleep