How much sleep does the human body need to function optimally? Scientists and doctors have been debating the answer for many years. A better question sometimes is, how many people actually get an appropriate amount of sleep? The answer — not enough.
“More than one-quarter of the U.S. population report occasionally not getting enough sleep, while nearly 10 percent experience chronic insomnia,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also reported that “an estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder.” Insomnia has become so prevalent in the United States that last year the CDC called it an “important public health concern.”
Insomnia, specifically defined as trouble falling or staying asleep, is itself worth losing sleep over. The disorder has been “linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors” as well as higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, depression, cancer and obesity, according to the CDC.
Those liabilities cost Americans nearly $14 billion dollars each year, according to the National Sleep Foundation. That figure doubles when accounting for indirect costs.
If you often find yourself tossing and turning as the clock ticks well past midnight, there are simple steps you can take. The CDC recommends maintaining a regular sleep and wake time; keeping the bedroom dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature; removing distractions such as TVs or computers from the room; only using the bedroom for sleep; and avoiding large meals close to bed.
Yet these measures aren’t enough for 25 percent of Americans who take some type of medication every year to help them sleep, says the National Sleep Foundation. For those who prefer an alternative to medicine, companies across the nation have developed tools, devices and apps to help users fall asleep and track quality of sleep. Here, we take a look at 10 tools that can help fight insomnia.
As one of MedTech Boston's editorial interns, Lisa covers events, contributes photography and feature stories to the site and manages social media. She recently received her Master of Science in Journalism from Boston University. Lisa also earned her Bachelor of Arts from BU, with a degree in English and Philosophy. She has written for multiple campus publications, in addition to interning at Boston magazine.
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