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Sleep-deprived America in five simple charts: The impact of marriage, education and work


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just published their first national survey of sleep for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In many respects, it's consistent with our image of ourselves as bleary-eyed insomniacs downing triple espresso shots and melatonin pills as we stare at our iPhones like zombies. The CDC found that more than a third of American adults are not getting the recommended amount of seven-plus hours of sleep on a regular basis.

Here's a look at what sleep looks like across the United States, as broken down by marital status, geography, race/ethnicity and employment. The results aren't always what you might expect.

Sleep study on modern-day hunter-gatherers dispels notion that we’re wired to need 8 hours a day

1. First, here's a breakdown of how much sleep Americans are getting overall. This is based on a random telephone survey of 444,306 respondents. Overall, about 65 percent reported a "healthy sleep duration" (seven or more hours of sleep on a regular basis) and about 35 percent reported they were getting less than that.

2. Being unable to work or being unemployed appears to affect sleep in a negative way. That's consistent with previous research on sleep quality and mental health issues like depression that can be related to unemployment.

3. People with college degrees or higher were more likely to get enough sleep. Maybe it's because they are more likely to know how important good sleep is to your health or maybe because they have jobs or income that allow them to get more sleep?

4. Some racial or ethnic groups are more likely to be sleep-deprived than everyone else and that includes people who are black and those who are multiracial.

5. Being married appears to affect sleep duration in a positive way.

Which leads us to the billion-dollar question about sleep. How much is too little? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend seven hours a night. The groups say that sleeping less is associated with an increased risk of a whole host of scary conditions and diseases: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and frequent mental distress.

But other studies have raised questions about whether that's actually the magic number of hours you need. Last year, a study on primitive people living in remote villages without modern-day conveniences found that they were sleeping closer to six hours a night -- and were super healthy.

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