Sleep loss in adults: consequences, predictors, and countermeasures

Prevalence and consequences of sleep loss in adults

The recommended amount of sleep for adults 18–64 years old is 7–9 hours per night.1 However, adhering to a healthy sleep schedule in daily life is much harder in reality. Up to 40% of adults in the United States sleep less than 7 hours per night, which is the minimum sleep duration required for the prevention of cognitive performance deterioration.2 Sleep loss can be a consequence of medical conditions, pain, stress, sleep disorders, or social and lifestyle demands and responsibilities.2,3 Notably, the percentage of adults who do not get enough sleep is increasing and is likely higher than surveys indicate because self-reported sleep duration can be at least 1 hour longer than physiologic sleep duration.2 Sleep deprivation increases accident risk in drivers, medical personnel, and individuals involved in many other safety-related activities.1 Moreover, chronic sleep loss is a significant public health problem; it is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and overall morbidity and mortality.1-3 Because of these serious short-term and long-term negative repercussions of sleep loss, it is imperative that we better understand the objective and self-reported decrements resulting from sleep loss so that we can predict and mitigate them.

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Dr Namni Goel and Erika M. Yamazaki have no financial interests to disclose.