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Interesting Facts and Statistics About Sleep and Sleep Problems/Disorders

Provided courtesy of the National Sleep Foundation®

General | Sleep Apnea | Insomnia | Narcolepsy | Restless Legs Syndrome | Drowsy Driving



  • Some 70 million people in the United States have a sleep problem. About 40 million adults suffer from a chronic sleep disorder; an additional 20 - 30 million have intermittent sleep-related problems. (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute)
  • Effects of sleep loss on work performance may be costing U.S. employers some $18 billion in lost productivity. (NSF 1997 poll on Sleeplessness, Pain, and the Workplace)
  • America’s adults average 6.9 hours of sleep each night, slightly less than the range of seven to nine hours recommended by many sleep experts. (NSF 2005 Sleep in America poll)
  • Three-quarters of America’s adults, (75%), said they frequently experience at least one symptom of a sleep problem in the past year. (NSF’s 2005 Sleep in America poll)
  • More than three-quarters of America’s partnered adults (77%) say their partner has a sleep-related problem; the most common problem is snoring. (NSF 2005 Sleep in America poll)
  • One-quarter of America’s adults, 47 million people, don’t get the minimum amount of sleep they say they need to be alert the next day. (NSF 2002 Sleep in America poll)
  • One-quarter of America’s adults say their sleep problems have some impact on their daily lives. (NSF 2005 Sleep in America poll)
  • People who are already hypertensive may increase their risk of heart attack or stroke if they fail to get adequate sleep. (Lusardi P, Zoppi A, Preti P, Pesce RM, Piazza E, Fogari R. Effects of insufficient sleep on blood pressure in hypertensive patients: a 24-hour study. AM J Hypertens. 1999 Jan; 12(1pt 1):63-68)
  • Shift workers are 30 - 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease than day workers in the same industry. (Tenkanen L, Sjoblom T, Kalimo R, Alikoski T, Harma M. Shift work, occupation, and coronary heart disease over six years of follow-up in the Helsinki Heart Study. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1997;23(4):257-265)
  • More than one-half of America’s adults nap at least once a week. (NSF 2005 Sleep in America poll).
  • While the majority of America’s adults do not use anything to help them sleep, for those who do use a sleep aid, alcohol appears to be the popular choice; 11 percent of adults said they used alcohol, beer or wine at least a few nights a month, 9 percent used over-the-counter sleep aids, 7 percent said they used prescription medications. (NSF 2005 Sleep in America poll)

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  • Sleep apnea affects some 18 million people. According to NSF’s 2002 Sleep in America poll, about one in ten adults reported experiencing pauses in breathing during sleep. Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea.
  • About 59 percent of adults said they snore, according to NSF’s 2005 Sleep in America poll; about one-fourth of those who snore do so every night or almost every night.
  • Untreated sleep apnea may cause $3.4 billion in additional medical costs. (Kapur,V, DK, Sandblom RE, et al. The medical costs of undiagnosed sleep apnea. Sleep 1999 Sep 15;22(6):749-755)
  • People with untreated sleep apnea are two to seven times more likely to have automobile crashes than the general population. (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Facts about sleep apnea. 1995 Sept.)

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  • Insomnia is the most common sleep problem for America’s adults, according to NSF polls. More than one-half of adults in America (54%) said they experienced at least one symptom of insomnia a few nights a week; one-third (33%) reported having a symptom every night or almost every night in the past year. (NSF 2005 Sleep in America poll)
  • A conservative estimate of the total annual cost of insomnia is $92.5-$107.5 billion. (Stoller, MK, Economic effects of insomnia. Clinical Therapy. 1994 Sept.-Oct.)
  • People with level II insomnia use more health care resources than those without insomnia. (Hatoom HT, Kong SX, Kania CM Wong JM, Mendelson WB. Insomnia, Health-related quality of life and health-care resource consumption. A study of managed-care organization enrollees. Pharmacoeconomics. 1998 DEC;14(6):629-637)

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  • Narcolepsy affects about one in every 2,000 people, or more than 135,000 Americans. Narcolepsy usually strikes people in their mid-teens to age 25. (National Institute on Neurological Diseases and Stroke).

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  • Restless Legs Syndrome – It is estimated that RLS affects as many as 12 million Americans, though some researchers estimate a higher occurrence because RLS is thought to be under-diagnosed.

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  • About six in ten of adults licensed to drive (60%), or about 118 million people, said they have driven drowsy at least once in the past year. (NSF 2005 Sleep in America poll).
  • Seventeen percent, 32 million people, said they fell asleep at the wheel. (Ibid).
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at least 100,000 police-reported crashes are caused by drowsy drivers each year. These crashes result in more than 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries.

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