Americans are Overtired and are Taking It Lying Down

New Survey Shows Americans Have Not Talked With Their Doctor About Signs of Potential Serious Sleeping Disorder


Americans are tired and, for the most part, do little about how they feel. A nationwide online survey shows that almost half (49 percent) of Americans are aware of their tiredness, but have not spoken to their doctor and are unaware that tiredness can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. The survey was conducted by the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC).

"Unfortunately, we all know what it feels like to be tired or fatigued," said Elizabeth A. Battaglino, RN, director of marketing & consumer affairs, NWHRC. "Because the feeling is so common, it is only too easy to dismiss ongoing tiredness as normal and not get the help that is available."

Many people who are perpetually tired may be suffering from excessive sleepiness, a key symptom and one of the most debilitating features of many sleep disorders. This condition oftentimes results in decreased work productivity and social interaction. One-third (33 percent) of those surveyed said that sleepiness and fatigue stopped them from being productive at work and/or at home. Additionally, almost one out of three responders refrained from social or recreational activities such as dining out, meeting friends, shopping or going to the gym because of fatigue or sleepiness.

"Being tired is a very significant problem that most people, even physicians don't realize and needs to be taken more seriously," said Lauren Krupp, MD, neurologist and co-director of the MS Comprehensive Care Center at State University of New York Stony Brook. "It is critical that women who experience ongoing tiredness review their daily routines and speak with their doctor when they feel they are unreasonably tired."

Unfortunately, excessive sleepiness and fatigue often go unrecognized by physicians. One reason may be the manner in which patients describe their symptoms. A diagnosis may be missed by physicians who do not realize that excessive sleepiness and fatigue can be described by patients as difficulty concentrating and an overwhelming sense of tiredness and exhaustion.

" Those with ongoing tiredness or fatigue believe there is a certain stigma associated with their condition," added Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at NYU School of Medicine. "They live with their symptoms out of fear that others will label them as lazy or complainers. And, yet, by not seeking help they are missing out on so much that life has to offer."

Despite widespread public discussions about the dangers associated with the over-reliance on coffee and sodas to make it through the day, 45 percent of people surveyed admitted to using caffeine or a similar stimulant solely for the purposed of maintaining alertness. Surprisingly, nearly half of all respondents indicated they were frequently tired even after getting seven to eight hours of sleep.

"Women today have so many responsibilities that tiredness often seems inevitable," said Battaglino. "Yet, there is so much that can be done to address these symptoms. The first step is awareness - women need to be made aware that excessive sleepiness or tiredness can be a sign of a serious medical condition and they should talk with their doctor to seek a solution."

As part of this awareness initiative, NWHRC developed information cards to encourage physicians and consumers to further discuss these conditions. These cards contain assessment tools to help consumers determine whether their tiredness should be brought to the attention of a physician and to help physicians gauge whether their patients' tiredness is at a level requiring further evaluation.

Consumers can visit the NWHRC website at fmxhosting.com/drupal635 for a full press kit or call, toll-free, 877-986-9472 to obtain more information.

About NWHRC
Since the late 1980's, the National Women's Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC) has helped millions of women educate themselves about the health topics that concern them the most. The non-profit organization, dedicated to helping women make informed decisions about their health, encourages women to embrace healthy lifestyles to promote wellness and prevent disease.

As the national clearinghouse for women's health information, providing access to health information and resources is our primary goal. The information we provide is comprehensive, objective and supported by an advisory council made up of leading medical and health experts.

The NWHRC online survey was made possible by an educational grant from Cephalon, Inc.

Contacts:
Beverly Dame
National Women's Health Resource Center
(888) 406-9472 beverlydame@healthywomen.org

Lisa Kim
Hill & Knowlton
(212) 885-0623
lisa.kim@hillandknowlton.com

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