06/06/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Sleepless Couch Potato?

Is it really any surprise to hear that the CDC says Americans lack exercise, sleep and weight control? I feel like I just blogged about this.

Here are the recent stats based on a poll taken of 79,000 Americans ages 18 and up, from 2005 to 2007.

  • 31 percent of Americans are getting adequate amounts of exercise ("moderate exercise" is defined as 30 minutes, five times a week).
  • 40 percent of Americans don't do any exercise at all.
  • The other 29 percent get active, but not often enough.
  • 60 percentof Americans are regular drinkers ("regular" means anything from one drink a year to two drinks a day for adult men). I wouldn't call one drink a year being a "regular drinker," though. Whites with higher degrees are more likely to imbibe.
  • We're all familiar with this statistic: 35 percent of adults are overweight; 68 percent of men and 53 percent of women in the poll weigh too much.
  • 6 out of 10 respondents reported getting at least seven hours of sleep, but the rest of those polled are getting by on insufficient rest.

The good news? Fewer of us are smoking. It's much harder to quit smoking than it is to get a better night's sleep, clean up your diet, and find more time to be active.

With all the news about health care reform lately, it's time for each of us to consider a little health care reform at home:

  • Take at least three things off your "To Do" list every day so you can get to bed at a reasonable hour - do you have to get it all done before you can go to bed?
  • If you count yourself among the drinkers, try to avoid alcohol within three hours of bedtime.  If caffeinated drinks are your beverages of choice, avoid them altogether after 3 p.m.
  • Log more hours of sleep. Aim for at least 7 every night.
  • Set goals for an exercise routine. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. But don't cut into your sleep time by getting up earlier than usual. Schedule active time during your regular work day, such as during lunch or right after work.

As I've said before, the notion of losing weight in your sleep is not necessarily fiction. When you get your sleep, you get to see the pounds fall off all the quicker.  And you might even have more energy and want to get off the couch.  Now that's something for the CDC to write about!

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD

The Sleep Doctor™

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