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Hawaii residents most short of Z’s


Here’s an eye-opener: Hawaii is among the most sleep-deprived states, with many residents getting fewer than seven hours of slumber a day, according to the latest national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state topped the survey for sleep deprivation, the most adults who snore, unintentionally falling asleep during the day and nodding off or falling asleep while driving, said the Unhealthy Sleep-Related Behaviors report published yesterday on the CDC’s website.

Local residents have to work harder than people in many other places because of the high cost of living, resulting in less time for rest, said Ford Shippey, a sleep medicine doctor at Sleep Center Hawaii and hospitalist at the Queen’s Medical Center.

"A lot of people in Hawaii work more than one job or are working six to seven days a week," he said. "And there are many families with children where both parents work. That eats away at the time they’re able to sleep. We’re all overworked."

An estimated 44.6 percent of adults in Hawaii get fewer than seven hours of rest a day, based on a sample of 6,288 residents. The report used 2009 data from 12 states. New York was the second highest with 40.7 percent of a sampling of 3,139 residents, while Maryland came in third with 39.9 percent of 3,910.

About 54 percent of island residents snore, and 42.8 percent unintentionally snooze during the day, while 6.4 percent of adults nod off or fall asleep while driving, the data showed.

Contributing to sleepiness is Hawaii’s disproportionately large number of individuals who are obese — a condition linked to sleep apnea, said James Pearce, director of the Sleep Disorders Center of the Pacific at Straub Clinic & Hospital.

"There’s a segment of the population that has a lot more problems with obesity in Hawaii," he said. "Massive obesity seems to just culturally be more accepted, but it’s unfortunate because there’s a lot of diseases — not just sleep apnea — that are linked to it."

Children also lack sleep. Young children are recommended to get between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a day, while studies show that teenagers should get close to nine hours a day.

Lack of sleep is "especially prevalent in teenagers and young adults as they’re often trying to push themselves to function on less and less sleep because of pressures from work, school and social events," Shippey said. "People often try to use medication, caffeine and energy drinks to try to compensate, but nothing replaces a good night’s sleep. The thing we all worry about and that is prevalent here in Hawaii is drowsy driving — that’s a potentially fatal event."


The following is a list of tips to improve sleep:

1. Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
2. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark and relaxing environment, neither too hot or too cold.
3. Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV or listening to music. Remove all TVs, computers and other "gadgets" from the bedroom.
4. Physical activity might help promote sleep, but not within a few hours of bedtime.
5. Avoid large meals before bedtime.

Source: National Sleep Foundation

An estimated 50 to 70 million adults nationwide have chronic sleep disorders. Among 74,571 adults surveyed, 35.3 percent reported having fewer than seven hours of sleep a day, 48 percent said they snore, 37.9 percent unintentionally fall asleep during the day and 4.7 percent nod off while driving.

The most common side effect of sleep-related difficulties was loss of concentration followed by trouble remembering, another report found. Most adults need seven to nine hours of slumber to avoid higher likelihood of illness and death, the Washington-based National Sleep Foundation said.

"Poor sleep habits, which include not scheduling enough time for sleep, can be assessed during general medical care visits and improved with effective behavioral changes," the authors wrote in an editorial after the CDC study.

Kaimuki resident Anela Chung would regularly sleep between four and five hours a night when she launched a Honolulu cleaning business in 2000.

"It wasn’t because I was at work that late — I didn’t know how to turn off thinking about work," she said. "I learned over the years to turn it off at a certain point at night and know it will be there tomorrow."

More recently she has made it a point to sleep at least seven hours a day.

"If I don’t get enough sleep, it affects me," Chung said. "I’m not as patient, I’m irritable and I don’t think I make the best decisions. So I’ll put off doing other things to get my sleep because that is way more important to me."

Bloomberg News Service contributed to this report.


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