Illinois adults aren't getting enough sleep

During the pandemic sleep quality decreased and bedtime routines became less structured.
by Mark Richardson
Illinois News Connection
Illinois - More than three in 10 Illinois adults reported getting too few hours of sleep a night, which can contribute to poor job performance and health problems, according to America's Health Rankings.

Sleep experts say people ages 18 to 60 need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to be healthy. Losing sleep has been linked to increasing rates of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer for United Healthcare, explained developing a consistent bedtime routine is critical for a good night's rest.

"That's something that's really important, just having a routine," Johar outlined. "Whether it's brushing your teeth, changing into pajamas. Doing some kind of activity before you go to sleep; yoga, listening to music, reading. Setting your alarm for the same time every day."

Statistics show 31% of Illinois adults get less than seven hours of sleep a night, just under the national average of 32%. There are also differences in race and gender. Among Black Illinois residents, 47% get too little sleep, compared to about 27% of white and Hispanic residents. Women get about 5% more sleep than men.

Johar emphasized it is also important to turn off laptops and phones a few hours before bed, because the blue light from screens suppresses the release of melatonin, which induces restful sleep. He also pointed out eating right before bed can trigger a cascade of events to throw off circadian rhythm and metabolism.

"Avoid eating large meals before bedtime," Johar advised. "Those can cause a lot of restless sleep and problems."

Johar added people experiencing prolonged issues with sleep need to see their doctor.

"Sometimes, there may be underlying medical problems that are making it difficult for you to sleep," Johar noted. "And the other thing that's really important that people don't realize is how much stress and behavioral health issues can factor into their sleep."

During the pandemic, while more people reported sleeping longer, sleep quality decreased and bedtime routines became less structured.