Getting a full 8-hours of sleep a night is quickly becoming a thing of the past, even though it's still recommended. Anything less is called 'sleep debt' and it's becoming a health issue.

According to Sleepopolis.com, specifically in Minnesota we have an average sleep debt of 31 hours per month. That's right, every single month we average 31 hours below the amount of sleep we should get!

The interactive infographic below shows you what each state's sleep debt is. Minnesota doesn't have the worst, but we are below the national average. Take a look at Alaska, who has the worst in the country:

Created by Sleepopolis  • View larger version

Sleep is crucial for good health – it regulates our mood, affects productivity, concentration, weight, and it’s the key to a healthy lifestyle. Lack of good sleep has a ton of negative effects on not only your body, but nearly every other piece of your life in some way.

There's a term called "binge sleeping", which I've been known to do, but it doesn't do much for us (other than it feels REALLY good) with our health as the damage is already done. Binge sleeping is taking advantage of time off by sleeping for much more than 8-hours, or spending more time asleep than awake during a period of time. Nearly 15% of Minnesotans binge sleep on a weekly basis.

So why aren’t we getting enough Z’s? Well, according to Sleepopolis’ survey results, a significant 44.3% of Americans say they often struggle to fall asleep at night.

And it’s hardly surprising that, as a nation, we find it hard to switch off, given that the survey also revealed that over a third of Americans (36.3%) admit to drinking caffeine just before going to bed, and 78.3% use their cell phones every night just before going to bed.

Falling asleep is only half the battle - it’s staying asleep that is also a challenge. 38.1% of those who wake up in the middle of the night do so because they need the bathroom, 19.2% of Americans said their sleep is interrupted because of the room’s temperature, 18.8% put broken sleep down to work-related stress, 18% blamed an uncomfortable mattress, 3.8% blamed waking up on loud noise outside, and 2.1% said their partner was to blame!

For women, the most common reason for waking up in the middle of the night was to use the bathroom (53%), whereas men were more likely to wake up because of an uncomfortable bed (29.8%).

So what does all this say, other than we obviously need to get more sleep? Here are some things to change immediately:

  1. Stop heavy use of your cell phone at night, use a "blue light filter" if you have to.
  2. Cut the caffeine LONG before you go to sleep, and limit how much you drink before you head to bed.
  3. Turn the thermostat down at night before you go to sleep. I like it 67 degrees personally!

In the recent months my wife and I have been making changes to try to help our sleep. One of the biggest differences that have helped us personally was to dump the bright LED clock on the night stand. It emits a bright red light in the room at night and make it hard to stay asleep. Now the room is completely dark at night and we seem to sleep much better! It doesn't help being a night owl and having to get up in the 4am hour though. There's no way I'll ever be able to fall asleep before 9pm, so I'll always have sleep debt...