Sleepless Nation: Why Eight-Plus Hours Is Necessary For Optimal Health

  One odd boast in an overworked, overtired culture is how little sleep one needs. I’ve come across a number of people who wear their four-to-five hours a night like a badge of honor. Sometimes, though, there’s a wistfulness to their declaration, hinting that even though eight hours is a distraction, what if, if only…
It’s hard to admit our deficiencies. Lack of sleep is too prominent to ignore, however. An estimated seventy million Americans suffer from sleeping disorders. In 2011, sixty million were prescribed sleeping pills. With increasing amounts of emergency room visits attributed to drugs like Ambien, along with a spike in depression levels from abuse, it’s hard to imagine how the extra eleven minutes a night that these pills offer—yep, that’s it—are worth it.
Many intertwined factors are implicated in our growing sleeplessness. Light from our devices is a growing concern. Diet is another. Sleep deprivation results in an incessant craving for dense carbohydrates and sugars. Keeping our bodies running on sugar results in an expectable crash, causing us to need more, and so forth. In turn this keeps us awake, or constantly waking up during the night, disrupting the necessary cycles we need for a truly restful evening.

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