Better Sleep Council Announces Campaign to End Sleep Deprivation

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With only 30 percent of Americans getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, the Better Sleep Council is announcing a public awareness campaign to stop the growing epidemic of sleep deprivation. The campaign will identify sleep deprived people for what they are - zombies! The Stop Zombieitis! campaign launches as part of Better Sleep Month in May 2011.

Stop Zombieitis! Campaign begins May 1, 2011

Zombieitis is the catch phrase we coined to describe the many manifestations of sleep deprivation,” said Quinn. "Those suffering from Zombieitis can be identified by their unkempt appearance, unsightly drooling, and frequent mumbling.

The Better Sleep Council (BSC), in conjunction with the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), today announced a public awareness campaign to stop the growing epidemic of sleep deprivation.

According to sleep experts, 70 percent of Americans do not get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Even more troubling is the fact that 39 percent of those surveyed receive six hours or less of sleep per night, with 16 percent receiving less than five hours of sleep.

And Americans aren’t the only ones at risk. In fact, a survey by The Sleep Council in the United Kingdom shows that the nation is overrun by people struggling to get enough sleep: the average amount of nightly sleep is almost 90 minutes short of the recommended eight hours – just 6.6 hours of sleep per person. Those working in the legal or transport professions are most at risk of becoming sleep zombies: and nearly three in ten people (29 percent) say getting a new bed would improve their sleep.

“This is a very serious health problem,” stated Mark Quinn, BSC Chairman. “Sleep deprivation can have a profound impact on a person’s general health as well as his or her mood, energy level, job performance and overall productivity.”

Old Mattresses a Key Culprit

While the causes of sleep deprivation are varied, old mattresses appear to be a leading cause. “Research shows that people who get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night tend to sleep on newer mattresses,” noted Ryan Trainer, President of ISPA. “Of the 53 percent who get seven to eight hours of sleep per night, 36 percent do so on a mattress that’s one to four years old. Conversely, only nine percent of Americans who own eight- to 10-year-old mattresses get seven to eight hours of sleep. And 13 percent get just four hours of sleep or less. Those are some eye-opening numbers.”

Aches and Pains Follow Suit

In a 2008 study, 46 percent of respondents reported that they wake up frequently (at least a few times per month) with back, neck and shoulder pain that impacts their physical performance. The study showed a direct and dramatic link between lack of sleep and the incidence of shoulder pain, with 72 percent of those averaging four hours or less of sleep per night waking up with motion-limiting pain and stiffness.

“It’s a proven fact that sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in aches and pains, even among younger people,” stated Quinn. “For example, 18- to 24-year-olds complain most about starting the day with back, neck and shoulder stiffness. One cause of this might be the fact that younger people tend to sleep on old, worn-out, ‘hand-me-down’ mattresses.”

One Cure: Newer Mattresses

According to a study by Dr. Bert Jacobson, PhD, of Oklahoma State University, published in the Journal of Applied Ergonomics, sleeping on a new mattress can significantly improved sleep quality during the night and reduce physical pain during the day. When sleeping on new bedding systems, study respondents on average reported significant improvements in:

  •     Sleep quality (64.4 percent)
  •     Lower back pain (62.8 percent)
  •     Back stiffness (58.4 percent)
  •     Sleep comfort (69.9 percent)
  •     Shoulder pain (62.4 percent)

Industry Vows to Stop Zombieitis

The BSC and ISPA recently joined forces to launch a communications campaign aimed at stopping Zombieitis around the world. “Zombieitis is the catch phrase we coined to describe the many manifestations of sleep deprivation,” explained Quinn. “Symptoms include irritability, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, malaise or apathy, weight gain, headaches, decreased brain function and circles or bags under the eyes. Those suffering from Zombieitis also can be identified by their unkempt appearance, unsightly drooling, frequent mumbling and a lumbering walk or slow gate.”

According to Quinn, the “Stop Zombieitis” campaign kicks off in May during Better Sleep Month, with “Stop Zombieitis Day” taking place on Friday, May 20. Support for the effort will come from national trade and consumer advertising, public relations, special events, social media outreach programs and in-store merchandising materials. The campaign is expected to run through the remainder of 2011.

To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.bettersleep.org. For up-to-the-minute news on campaign activities, please visit the following social media channels:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/StopZombieitis
Twitter: twitter.com/StopZombieitis
Youtube: youtube.com/user/StopZombieitis
Microsite coming May 1.

About the Better Sleep Council
The Better Sleep Council is the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, the trade association for the mattress industry. With a quarter of a century invested in improving America’s quality of sleep, the BSC educates consumers on the critical link between sleep and health, as well as the role of the sleep environment, primarily through an informative consumer website http://www.bettersleep.org, partner support and proactive consumer media outreach.

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