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Eye-opening facts about a lack of shut-eye

UTICA — Four in 10 upstate New York adults are not getting enough sleep, according to a survey commissioned by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

This past weekend’s time change from daylight saving to standard time was expected to compound this issue, according to the health insurer. Sleep experts recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

“Turning our clocks forward each March and turning them back each November disrupts our body’s natural 24-hour cycle, or circadian rhythm,” Dr. Richard Lockwood, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield vice president and chief medical officer, said in a press release. “The impact on an already sleep-deprived society is like nationally imposed jet lag, although it’s easier to adjust in the fall, when we gain an hour, than it is in the spring, when we lose one.”

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield commissioned One Research to conduct an online survey of upstate New York adults ages 18 and older. Among the findings: Men are significantly more likely than women to report getting seven or more hours of sleep each night.

¯ Average hours of sleep vary with age. Compared with other age groups, adults 35 to 44 years old are the least likely to get seven hours or more of sleep at night. Significantly more adults age 65 and older report getting the most sleep.

¯ One in five adults reports snoring. More men report snoring than women.

¯ More than half of adults (especially women) report often feeling tired during the day.

¯ Eight out of 10 adults have tried at least one method to improve sleep.

Obesity, heart disease, diabetes and depression all are health conditions associated with not getting enough sleep, although it’s not clear whether sleep disruption leads to these clinical problems or the problems disturb sleep, according to Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Poor sleep is linked with impaired decision-making and decreased alertness, which can result in injuries to the sleep-deprived and/or those around them. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. Those crashes led to an estimated 50,000 injuries and nearly 800 deaths.

Lack of sleep also is an economic issue. The National Safety Council estimates that worker fatigue costs employers $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity.

“As a society, we need to recognize the dangers of trying to get by with fewer hours of sleep and wake up to the health benefits of a good night’s rest,” Lockwood said.

He offers the following tips for improved sleep.

¯ Keep bedroom quiet, dark and cool.

¯ Avoid large meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed.

¯ Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, including on weekends.

¯ Exercise regularly.

¯ Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.

¯ Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed.

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