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October 19, 2000 09:40am
America Under Covers
Source: HealthSCOUT News
by: Adam Marcus

(NEW YORK, NY) -- From downing a nip to a little 'tween-the-sheets tango, Americans have their favorite ways of getting ready for bed.

Trouble is, some of these habits aren't conducive to a good night's sleep, particularly those that cause anxiety or agitation, experts say.

"Americans are doing all sorts of things to be comfortable" in bed, says Kally Fraser, a spokeswoman for the Serta bedding company. "In some cases, that lessens the quality of sleep." Serta, the world's second largest mattress maker, recently queried 1,000 people nationwide about their nocturnal rituals.

Of the men and women surveyed, 75 percent say they watch television before turning in, and 53 percent say they read the day's newspapers. More than 40 percent say they pray or meditate before bed, and almost 20 percent say their routine includes surfing the Internet.

Nearly 60 percent say they have to make sure their house is secure before going to sleep.

When asked whether sex is a soporific, roughly 75 percent of those survey say yes, though more men than women consider intercourse a favorite way to close the eyelids.

And, in case you're curious: What do Americans wear to bed? Most women -- 81 percent -- don nightgowns or pajamas, and 7 percent sleep naked. For men, 48 percent say they sleep in their underwear, 24 percent in pajamas and 20 percent in the buff.

Perhaps surprisingly, 3 percent of women and 4 percent of men report going to bed in their street clothes.

What To Do

While 13 percent of people surveyed say they have a nightcap to help them fall asleep, experts say drinking alcohol before bed is generally bad for sound sleeping.

Other pre-bedtime activities that experts say are not conducive to quick or restful slumber include exercise, eating large quantities of food and "deep" conversations.

The ideal bedtime routine should involve relaxing activities. If you like to read, pick up a book that's not too gripping. Watch television shows that aren't exciting.

An estimated 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia and other sleeping problems that prevent them from getting enough rest, according to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders. The typical adult should get eight hours of sleep a night, and adolescents require slightly more, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

To learn about sleep disorders, check out the National Sleep Foundation or Sleepnet.com.

Or, you may want to read previous HealthScout articles on a wide range of sleep topics.

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