By Ellen James Martin, Washington News Service
Special to The PREVIEW
America is facing an epidemic of sleepiness — with more than a third of adults engaging in what leading researchers dub “sleep procrastination.” One sign is long lines for a caffeine fix at coffee shops each morning. Some even develop sleep disorders due to the stress related with modern working life. When caffeine is not enough to get one moving, some get their hands on just to get by.
“We don’t value sleep. We treat it as a luxury and not a necessity. Many adults sleep less than six hours per night yet need more than seven,” said Dr. James Maas, a former Cornell University psychology professor who’s made it his mission to urge people to take their sleep needs more seriously.
“Sleep procrastination” differs from insomnia, which is the involuntary inability to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. Rather, it involves a voluntary delay in hitting the mattress — which results in too few hours of deep rest and rejuvenation.
Maas said the long-term consequences of inadequate sleep are “vast” and include poor work and athletic performance, along with drowsy-driving crashes. Short sleepers are also more susceptible to diseases ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer’s and often live abbreviated lifespans.