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Study: More Americans Struggling To Sleep

An Iowa State study has found more Americans struggle to fall and stay asleep.

An Iowa State University study has found more Americans are now struggling to fall - and stay - asleep.

The study, published in the journal Sleep Health, used data on 165,000 Americans collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It found that the number of adults who reported difficulty falling asleep at least one day per week increased 1.43 percent from 2013 to 2017, and the number of people who reported difficulty staying asleep at least one day per week increased 2.7 percent.

Zlatan Krizan, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University and the lead researcher, said though the percentages may look small, he estimates it means up to 5 million more Americans may have sleep disturbances.

"One or two percent may not seem as much, but when it applies to a population of 350 million, we're still talking about millions of people here that may have their lives look a bit different than before," he said.

Krizan said the study did not look into reasons for the change, but he said technology may play a big role.

"Some of the other research that I've looked at for sleep duration finds that especially mobile devices, and especially the use before bed, is implicated in sleep disturbances. So that's the most likely suspect," Krizan said.

Krizan recommended that people who want to sleep better should stop using mobile devices long before trying to fall asleep and establish a relaxing pre-sleep routine.

"Set up an environment which is conducive for you unplugging from the matrix, so to speak," he said, "and have a pre-sleep ritual and maybe read a book. Or you take a bath and you leave the smartphone somewhere else or you turn it off."

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter