A new and comprehensive study by the Centers for Disease Control says 36 percent of adults in America don’t get enough sleep and are facing sleep deprivation.

An adult that gets less than seven hours of sleep per night increases his or her chances of developing health problems like obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and mental disorders.

This latest report from the CDC is the first to actually evaluate self-reported trends in normal sleep duration from the entire country.

Digging deep, researchers discovered that married couples actually get more sleep normally than single sleepers, despite the fact that couples share a bed, have to deal with snoring, and may also be dealing with children at night.

Married couples reported getting seven hours of sack time per night in 67 percent of the cases studied. That happens to be the magic number suggested by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as well as the Sleep Research Society. Only 62 percent of those who have never married get that same amount. Only 56 percent of those widowed, separated, or divorced reported getting at least seven hours of sleep at night.

The CEO of mattress producer Personal Comfort Bed, Craig Miller, Jr., says those statistics don’t surprise him. He believes a sleep partner is crucial for a sound night’s rest.

A regular job apparently helps people get good sleep, too. The unemployed and shut-in slept less than those with steady employment (51 and 60 percent, respectively, as compared to 65 percent).In addition, 72 percent of college grads in the study reported seven hours or more of sleep per night.

Chronic poor health may also play a part in keeping people from a good night’s rest. Around 25 percent of the American population is suffering from sleep apnea. That is when shallow breathing or temporary cessation of breathing occurs during sleep, according to Dr. Jordan Josephson, who is a specialist in ear, nose, throat, and sinus problems in New York City at the Lenox Hill Hospital.

The United States National Institutes of Health says there is a strong link between sleep apnea and obesity. CDC researchers discovered that the folk in and around the Appalachian Mountains region had the least sleep and were noted for also having very high rates of overweight problems and other health issues.

The Snooze Benefits of a Sleep Partner

Miller says “A sleeping partner is able to help their spouse/significant other to relax and become better aware of any worries or issues that are keeping their partner awake.” He says a spouse or partner might point out a snoring problem that could be a symptom of something more serious and also reinforce good sleeping habits by letting the partner know that when they sleep better they seem to have better days all around.

CDC investigators have broken down sleep statistics by demographics as well. They say that the magic number of seven hours per night is lower among groups such as Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (54 percent), black non-Hispanics (54 percent), non-Hispanic multiracials (54 percent), and Native Americans, including Alaska Natives (60 percent). Doing a little better are white non-Hispanics (67 percent), Hispanics (66 percent), and Asian Americans (63 percent).

The lowest and highest scores went to Hawaii and South Dakota respectively; with Hawaii coming in at 56 percent and South Dakota at 72 percent.

Experts at both the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine strongly urge adults between 18 and 60 to get at least seven solid hours of sleep to optimize their health. With less, there is the chance of boosting health challenges like weight gain leading to obesity and consequent problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and clinical depression.

Miller advises adults to seek medical help when sleep levels consistently fall below seven hours per night. Temporary stress and health problems that will clear up do not count, but when sleep is poor for more than a few weeks it ought to be referred to a medical specialist.

A sleep journal helps keep track of what happens just before going to bed, and when you get up. It will show up any unusual or continuing problems and items that are keeping you from your rest. You can then take action to change or eliminate those things.

Health experts all agree that nicotine and alcohol right before bed will only keep you awake longer. Try some herbal tea, instead.

“Don’t disregard a mid-day siesta,” counsels Miller, “if you just can’t get the requisite seven hours at night. The important thing is to get at least seven hours in a 24-hour period. Anything less will eventually lead to health problems.”

The CDC now recommends that all health care providers should check their patients for sleep problems such as snoring and narcolepsy. Taking care of bad sleep patterns may be a better cure, in the long run, than a host of prescription medications.