MUNCIE, Ind. – The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night to stay healthy and to give their body a chance to reset.

As a nation, the number of people who get the prescribed amount has dropped from 75% in 2008 to 64% in 2018. Researcher Jagdish Khubchandani first analyzed the sleep habits of 150,000 Americans through 2018 and then updated those results earlier this year.

“You’ll find that there are some groups who sleep less than five, four. People with multiple jobs in the lowest socioeconomic strata, people in the South, police officers, doctors, nurses,” said Khubchadani, a health sciences researcher at Ball State University.

Researchers said only 50% of police officers and 55% of healthcare workers reported getting enough sleep. Over time, the effects of sleep deprivation add up.

“And in the long run, you continue to gain weight. You have a risk of heart disease, cancers and stroke because sleep is like a medicine,” Khubchadani said.

Researchers said it’s important to keep the same sleep schedule during the pandemic. Avoid heavy and sugary foods for several hours before bed and cut back on screen time and social media.

Researchers said one other new finding involves women and sleep. The percentage of women reporting too little sleep grew from 31% in 2010 to almost 36% in 2018, and those numbers are also projected to grow this year due to greater socioeconomic stress and work-life balance issues.

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