Study Shows We Don't Sleep as Much as We Think We Do

By Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC Medical Correspondent  | 

Do you think you're getting enough sleep?

A new study finds we don't sleep as much as we think we do.

Experts recommend that adults get at least eight hours of sleep each night, but surveys find people report averaging less than seven hours.

Now a new study reveals we may be sleeping even less than we think.

Doctors at Arizona State University analyzed sleep in more than 2100 adults.

They compared the amount of sleep people said they got to their actual amount of sleep as measured in a sleep lab. People estimated that they typically slept seven hours, but the lab found most subjects averaged just six hours.

Even the morning after the test, when asked about their sleep the night before, participants routinely over estimated by about twenty minutes.

Researchers say that this means self-reports on sleep are probably off target, and Americans may be more sleep deprived than they know.

Good sleep is linked to a lower risk of accidents and health problems, so experts suggest people maximize their sleep by setting a consistent bedtime, avoiding caffeinated drinks and removing distractions from the bedroom such as the the TV and the computer.

Sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the brain, so that it may continue to function optimally.

After long periods of sleep deprivation, neurons in the brain may begin to malfunction, which can negatively affect a person's behavior.

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