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News

Are we getting enough sleep?

University Of Chicago : 23 June, 2007  (Technical Article)
University of Chicago researchers who asked people to wear sleep-measuring devices found that the period of sleep was much shorter than the study subjects believed.
Led by Diane Lauderdale of the University of Chicago, the researchers found that people studied had spent an average of seven and a half hours in bed, but just over six hours asleep.

They also found significant differences in sleep patterns between men and women and whites and blacks, and among different income groups.

The findings suggest that people get less sleep than earlier studies have shown. It also raises questions about the reliability of sleep estimates that people provide to researchers.

The 669 volunteers were asked to keep a diary of their sleep over three days, and were given motion-detecting devices worn on the wrist that helped the researchers determine how much they actually slept. The study took into account the normal movements that occur during sleep, Dr. Lauderdale said.

Although women are more likely than men to say they are not getting enough sleep and are more likely to seek medical help for the problem, the researchers found that women slept better than men. Still, it may be that they need more sleep than men, the researchers said.

The most efficient sleepers were white women, at 6.7 hours. White men slept 6.1 hours; black women, 5.9; and black men, 5.1.

Dr. Lauderdale said she was surprised to find that richer people slept better than poorer ones did.

“We expected that people with higher household incomes and demanding jobs might be getting less sleep,” she said. “And, in fact, they spent slightly less time in bed. But they made better use of sleeping.”
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