Almost everyone could use another hour of sleep each night, according to a Cornell University psychologist.
"If you need an alarm clock to get up in the morning, or if you feel more than a minor energy sag in the middle of the day, you need more sleep," says James B. Maas, chairman of Cornell's psychology department.Without that extra sack time, we're depriving ourselves of a better quality of life and costing business and industry $50 billion a year in lost productivity and medical and accident costs, he says.
Most people who get sleepy during a boring class or meeting or from a glass of wine attribute it to outside factors when, in fact, it's sleep deprivation, says Maas.
Maas, founder of Cornell's Psychology Film Unit, focuses on our sleepless society and its effects in "Sleep Alert," a half-hour documentary funded by Abbott Laboratories. It is to be shown on PBS on March 22.
"Our society abuses sleep by demanding around-the-clock factory work and store hours," he says. "We do not realize the penalty this lifestyle takes on our behavior and performance."
According to the film, about one-quarter of the nation's work force is on shift work, and more than half fall asleep on the job at least once a week.
In a confidential survey of police officers, researchers found that four out of five officers on night shifts admitted to falling asleep one to three times per week.
By losing one or two hours of sleep a night, or eight to 10 hours a week, most of us suffer the debilitating effects of staying up all night.
"Our society needs to rethink how it equates naps and staying in bed late with laziness," says Maas.