Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has noted a "global epidemic of insomnia", with approximately two-thirds of adults getting less than eight hours of sleep per night. Many studies show that students who get less sleep suffer academically, as chronic sleep loss impairs the ability to remember, concentrate, think abstractly and solve problems. Sleep insufficiency is sometimes confused with insomnia, but the opportunity for sleep differs in the two disorders (insomnia sufferers are often unable to sleep despite having opportunities to do so). However, biomarkers are needed to predict sleepiness and other consequences of sleep deprivation.
Given the potential antagonistic impacts of sleep deprivation on well-being, prosperity and profitability, the results of sleep deprivation have costly financial outcomes. Although adolescents are biologically programmed to stay up late, many social and cultural forces further limit their sleep time. Dement and Carskadon expected to find that as participants got older, they would need less sleep. There is growing recognition of the links between night work and health problems, which may be due to the effects of prolonged or insufficient exposure to light, circadian disruption and sleep deprivation.
The experience was a wake-up call of sorts, as it recognised the need to return to a more balanced life and a better sleep pattern, he said. The trend was set by the city of Edina, Minnesota, an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, which conducted a landmark experiment on student sleep in the late 1990s. In addition, 64% use electronic music devices, 60% use laptops and 23% play video games in the hour before bedtime, according to the survey. Policy makers should encourage educational efforts to raise awareness of the importance of sleep and, above all, emphasise the contribution that employers can make to ensure that work tasks do not negatively interfere with sleep schedules.
One study investigated the behavioural and psychological consequences of chronic sleep deprivation in different age or social groups. Data from studies in the UK show similar proportions of the adult population reporting sleep problems compared to the US. In the distant past, humans slept when it was dark, rose with the light, and sleep was often taken in two stretches throughout the day.