March 2, 2009 / 2:53 PM / 10 years ago

Americans lose sleep due to economic woes

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Nearly 30 percent of Americans lose sleep at least a few nights per week because of the state of the U.S. economy and personal financial fears, and may suffer more as a result, according to a new poll.

A man sleeps on a chair while waiting to file an application for one of 35 firefighter jobs in Miami, Florida, February 2, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The survey “Sleep in America” by the National Sleep Foundation showed that 16 percent of 1,000 Americans who were polled last September and October said they are losing sleep because of financial concerns.

Fifteen percent reported losing sleep because of the state of the U.S. economy and another 10 percent said job worries are keeping them awake.

The world financial crisis, which has cost the United States thousands of jobs and has forced thousands of people to give up their homes because they cannot afford to pay their mortgages anymore, is also hurting people’s ability to pay for doctors to deal with their sleep problems, the poll found.

“With the economy worsening, we are seeing patients in our clinic who have told us that they would not be returning for treatment because they or other family members have lost their jobs, and they are concerned about costs,” said Dr Meir Kryger, of Gaylord Sleep Services in Connecticut.

Lack of sleep could endanger their physical health as well as their financial well-being according to the group.

People who do not get enough sleep have more trouble working efficiently, exercising, eating healthy food, having sex and engaging in leisure activities, the foundation said. They are more than twice as likely to eat foods high in sugar and carbohydrates and to smoke cigarettes or use tobacco.

In the past eight years, the number of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night jumped to 20 percent from 13 percent. Those who reported sleeping eight hours or more dropped to 28 percent from 38 percent.

National and global issues affect people’s sleep less, the poll found. Healthcare costs keep eight percent of people from sleeping, while the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is affecting six percent. Global warming and the threat of terrorism each scored three percent.

For better sleep, the foundation recommends a relaxing bedtime routine. It also suggests regular exercise and finishing workouts three hours before bedtime.

People should avoid high-caffeine food and drink for at least eight hours before bedtime, and alcohol a few hours before bedtime. It recommends using bedrooms for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep, not work.

Reporting by Robert MacMillan; editing by Patricia Reaney

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