Nearly one in five Americans are losing sleep over state of the world, new survey finds

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The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recently released a new survey that found many Americans are experiencing insomnia due to recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and polarizing political division.

According to Aneesa Das, MD, professor of internal medicine at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, the center experienced a 29 percent increase in referrals for insomnia from 2018 to 2021.

The national survey found many Americans try to address their sleep issues by using habits that may be detrimental to a good night’s sleep. Nearly half of Americans say they scroll their phones right before bed and 37 percent fall asleep with the TV on.

“Our circadian drive is that central clock telling us when we're supposed to be awake and asleep, and that is driven by light more than anything,” said Das in a statement. “When we use our smartphones and our TVs right before bed, we increase that bright light exposure at the wrong time.”

Das instead recommends increasing natural light exposure by getting outside during the day as much as possible. Once the sun sets, limiting light exposure is essential to obtaining better sleep, she said. In addition, consistent exercise during the week is key to helping your body get on an optimal sleep routine. 

Other behavioral adjustments to improve sleep patterns that practitioners can recommend to their patients include: 

  • Keeping bedrooms cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Spending time in bed only when it is time to sleep.
  • Using cognitive behavioral therapies like meditation and muscle relaxation.
  • Keeping bedtimes and wake times consistent, even on the weekends.