Over 30 percent of adults in the United States fail to meet the standards for sufficient sleep. This proportion has increased by over 10 percent since 1984. In addition, a startling number of Americans, nearly 70 million, also suffer from a sleep problem, and nearly 60 percent of them have a chronic sleep disease that can harmfully affect their overall health.

Know the toll

Untreated sleep disease and chronic sleep loss have a cumulative impact on nearly every public health indicator, increasing the risk of health problems such as mortality, accidents, injuries and disability.

"Effective treatment of a sleep disease improves quality of life by restoring healthy sleep, improving daytime alertness, increasing physical energy and reducing feelings of depression."

Insufficient sleep, due to inadequate or mistimed sleep, also contributes to the risk for several of today’s public health epidemics, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

Improving outcomes

Thankfully, practicing smart bedtime habits and rituals can improve your sleep for better overall health. Our daily routines—what we eat and drink, how and when we exercise, the drugs and medicines we consume, how we schedule our days—can significantly affect the amount and the quality of the sleep we get. Try to avoid screens before or in bed, have consistent bed and wake times, don’t drink alcohol in excess, avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and practice a wind-down routine. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep time.

Warning signs

If lifestyle changes and healthy sleep habits do not improve your sleep, it may be time to seek help from a board certified sleep physician who has the specialized training and expertise to diagnose and treat potentially life-threatening sleep diseases. One of the most destructive is obstructive sleep apnea, which afflicts at least 25 million adults. Snoring is a common warning sign of this chronic disease that increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and depression.

Effective treatment of a sleep disease improves quality of life by restoring healthy sleep, improving daytime alertness, increasing physical energy and reducing feelings of depression. Treatment may even reverse the consequences of the disease, dramatically improving your health.