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Sleep deficiency affects

More and more American adults are suffering from a decline in overall sleep duration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday.

It's recommended that adults should sleep seven to nine hours a night to maintain good health, but more than one-third of Americans do not meet that requirement, according to the CDC.

Insufficient sleep poses a long-term heath threat and impairs work performance and the ability to drive safely, the CDC said.

Chronic sleep loss also is associated with obesity, increased risk of death and other health problems, according to the CDC.

"Over the last 20 years there has been a decline in overall sleep duration in adults," said Lela McKnight-Eily, a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention.

"Within our culture there seems to be a belief that sleep isn't a part of overall essential health," she said.

McKnight-Eily and her colleagues studied the sleep habits of 74,571 adults in 12 states, 35.3 percent reported sleeping less than seven hours.

In addition, 48 percent reported snoring, 37.9 percent said they fell asleep at least once during the day the previous month and 4.7 percent admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at least once.

Drowsiness or nodding off while driving accounts for 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries a year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

To get enough sleep, Americans have to change lifestyle habits, including longer workdays and late nights on the computer, McKnight-Eily said, noting that too much screen time paring away much-needed sleep time. 

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