Popular Science

Why can’t we sleep?

Despite our near-constant worrying over restlessness, Americans log about the same amount of sleep today as they did 50 years ago. But that doesn’t mean we’re snoozing enough. Approximately one in three US adults isn’t getting the seven or more daily hours of shut-eye recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a 2020 poll from the National Sleep Foundation. And even among those who log good rest at least six nights a week, one-quarter say drowsiness still regularly interferes with daily life.

That’s a lot of time lost to lethargy, but the consequences of chronic sleeplessness can be even more serious. Those who average less than six hours an evening have an increased risk of accidents, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Yet our quest for slumber meets so many intersecting obstacles, from the glow of screens down to our DNA.

Like a fast-fading dream, the full scope of the problem is difficult to comprehend. Decades of research has homed in on five key challenges we face in our race to REM. Understanding the factors that keep us from dozing off might mean lulling ourselves into peaceful repose in spite of the struggle.

life gets in the way

midwife Josiane Laures and furniture maker Antoine Senni volunteered for a NASA study on the effects of isolation intended to inform future space missions. That December, they descended into caves, a few hundred yards from each other, and stayed inside for as long as they

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