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Work Hours May be Denying You Valuable Sleep Time

Despite the fact that reports have linked lack of sleep to a wide range of health problems, most people do not get the recommended eight hours per night of sleep. A recent study suggests that paid work time may be the number one thing that is robbing Americans of sleep.

Participants in the study included 124,517 Americans aged 15 and older who took part in the American Time Use Survey between 2004 and 2011. The survey is a computer-assisted telephone interview sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every year. It asks how people spent a 24-hour period between 4 a.m. the previous day and 4 a.m. on the day of the survey.

The responses were put into 40 different categories that covered 99.1% of the day. Included in the “sleeping” category were napping, waking up, and dreaming.

The survey found that short sleepers - those who were sleeping only six hours or less per night - worked an average 1.55 hours more on weekdays and 1.86 hours more on weekends or holidays than normal sleepers. They also started working earlier in the morning and finished later at night.

People working multiple jobs were 61% more likely to be short sleepers than those working only one job. On the other hand, people who were retired, unemployed, or absent from the labor force got significantly more sleep and were much less likely to be short sleepers.

Short sleepers also spent more time commuting than normal sleepers.

The researchers found that for every hour that work or educational training started later in the morning, sleep time was increased by approximately 20 minutes. Workers who started work before 6 a.m. slept an average of six hours, while those who started work between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. slept an average 7.29 hours nightly. People who were self-employed and therefore had more flexible schedules were 17% less likely to be short sleepers.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine conducted the study. It was published on December 1, 2014 in the journal Sleep.

Lack of sleep has been linked in previous studies with increased weight gain, faster cognitive decline, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

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