PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. population is getting about 1.5 to 2 hours fewer sleep than it did about 40 years ago, a speaker at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting said.
This telltale sign of the sleep deprivation “epidemic” has many health consequences, Alan Dow, MD, MSHA, assistant vice president of health sciences for interprofessional education and collaborative care, Virginia Commonwealth University and Healio Primary Care Today editorial board member said.
“We know that people who have been up for 19 hours have decision-making [abilities] similar to someone who is intoxicated. When you think about the work that physicians often do, with long hours and being up a lot, it’s not just impacting physicians, it’s impacting people,” he said.
Patients who are sleep deprived are also more susceptible to weight gain, CVD and mortality, Dow added. Such patients should be referred to cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and taught better sleep hygiene habits to regain those lost 2 hours of sleep, rather than relying on pharmacologic treatments, Dow said. – by Janel Miller
Disclosure: Dow reports no relevant financial disclosures.