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Study: Busy Americans Skipping Sleep

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RALEIGH — How much sleep did you get last night? Chances are good it was not enough: sleep deprivation is becoming an epidemic in this fast-paced world.

According to a new study, our hectic schedules and busy lives leave little time for sleep. Nearly half of all Americans have trouble sleeping at least one night a week.

"A lot of people are walking around very drowsy during the day because they're not getting enough time in bed to sleep," says sleep specialist Dr. Yvette Cook.

What we do during the day has a big effect on our sleep at night.

"Work eats up the largest chunk of our day. Nearly half of those surveyed said they often are too busy to even eat lunch. Most of them also get to work early and leave late-- leaving little time to unwind. Everybody needs sort of a down time where they can wind down so I think one to two hours you need to cut down on activity," says Cook.

People who travel a lot or have erratic schedules that cause them to go to bed at different times each night are most likely to have sleep problems. Most people try to make up for it on the weekends sleeping late or taking a nap.

"I don't think you can make up for it completely and if you see that you're sleeping longer on the weekends, you're probably not getting enough sleep during the weekday," says Cook.

Despite the exhaustion, most people do not want more time for sleep. Two-thirds of people asked said they would like to have a longer day, so they could accomplish more. Most would prefer an extra six hours in a day to do additional activities such as volunteer work or take care of children at home.

If you are routinely having problems sleeping or are concerned about conditions such as sleep apnea, it is best to talk with your primary physician. In some cases, a sleep study may be needed.