Thursday, April 24, 2008

In the USA, 66% Go to Bed by This Time

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If you're in bed by midnight, you have a lot of company. Fully two-thirds of Americans are peacefully snoozing before the midnight hour, reports Reuters of a worldwide survey on sleep habits.

Meanwhile, they're sleepless in Asia. Fully 40 percent of people on this continent stay up long past midnight, compared with 34 percent in the United States and 32 percent in Europe. Oddly, Asians are also the earliest to rise. Half of the 10 places with the most early-risers were in Asia, led by Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation where 91 percent said they are out of bed by 7 a.m., reports Reuters.

The poll of 14,100 people in 28 countries and regions was conducted by the market research firm AC Nielsen. "There is evidence all around us that people are pushing back their bed times," Vicky Santos, executive director of AC Nielsen's Singapore office, told Reuters.

What are we doing instead of sleeping? The distractions include late night entertainment, all-night shopping, and the Internet.

Fun facts about who sleeps when:

  • Fully 75 percent of people in Portugal stay up past midnight, the highest percentage of any country.
  • Seven of the top 10 nocturnal areas were in Asia, led by Taiwan where 69 percent turn in after midnight.
  • The Japanese sleep less than anyone else on the planet with 41 percent snoozing just six hours or less each night.
  • Australians go to bed the earliest and sleep the longest. Nearly one-quarter of Australians polled went to bed by 10 p.m., and 31 percent say they average more than nine hours of sleep every night.
We human beings are hardwired to sleep eight hours a day. When we miss out on this, there are significant physical and mental consequences. Dr. Rafael Pelayo of Stanford University's Sleep Disorder Clinic doesn't mince words. Sleep deprivation is dangerous, he told Healthology Inc. If your body is deprived of sleep, you'll have problems with memory and concentration, including finding the right word when you speak or write. You will get irritable. Neurotransmitters in the brain become altered, and children's growth will be stunted. You'll also become more susceptible to infection, and at its extreme, sleep deprivation can lead to death.

Surprisingly, if you sleep six hours a night, that's considered too little and could lead to sleep deprivation, according to researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine.

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