Skip to main content
U.S. Edition


Return to Transcripts main page


American Is Sleep-Deprived; Long-Term Health Consequences Related To Lack Of Sleep; Car Accidents Caused By Lack Of Sleep; Bill Clinton Talks About His Goal Of Creating A Fitter Nation

Aired May 20, 2006 - 08:30   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this is it, the day New Orleans decides who will lead the broken city as it rebuilds. Polls opened in the mayoral runoff election about an hour and a half ago. Voters are deciding whether incumbent Ray Nagin will continue as mayor or if he will be replaced by Mitch Landrieu. We'll have lives reports throughout the day and results as they come in. That's right here on CNN.
Also, a report to tell you about today that raises new questions about port security. The New York Times says the Coast Guard is tipping off some large commercial ships about security searches. Shipping companies say delays from surprise searches can cost up to $40,000 an hour.




NGUYEN: Night vision shows the ongoing fighting in Afghanistan. The country's military says suspected Taliban rebels ambushed two Afghan army convoys. The attacked sparked gun battles that killed ten militants, an Afghan soldier, and a civilian. Yesterday, a U.S. soldier was killed in Afghanistan and another six were injured.

Well, the quest for a good night's sleep, too many Americans are just falling short. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a closer look at sleep. "HOUSE CALL" begins right now.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning and welcome to HOUSE CALL. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So here's the question. How did you sleep last night? Well, if you're like a majority of Americans, probably not very well and probably not long enough either.

You know what? It's costing us. From health related problems like diabetes and heart disease, to loss of productivity and auto accidents.


GUPTA (voice-over): We live in a world where day and night no longer matter. You can work, play, eat, pretty much do anything we want around the clock. What we don't do enough of is sleep. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say that I average about six hours of sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About four to six hours maybe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably get four or five hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four or five hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm tired every day. Every night I'm tired.

GUPTA: As a society, we are chronically sleep-deprived, researchers say. Most of us need seven and a half to eight hours of sleep, but we're only getting an average of about six and a half during the week, a little more on weekends. This shortfall doesn't go away. In fact, it builds. Researchers call this our sleep debt.

DAVID DINGES, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Day after day, living on reduced amounts of sleep, you become more and more impaired, more dependent on caffeine, have more difficulty concentrating, at greater risk for falling asleep, more difficulty remembering, but you think you're doing fine.

The facility is set up to control those factors that typically influence sleep/wake behavior.

GUPTA: David Dinges runs the sleep and chronobiology lab at the University of Pennsylvania. His lab deprives healthy people of sleep to see how they do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The baby cried and upset her...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George could not believe his son stole a...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blue, red, green.

GUPTA: Stay up for 24 hours, like this test subject, and you're likely to perform as well as someone who's had a couple of drinks.

Here's something else. Experiments show for the vast majority of people, sleeping six hours a night for a week will result in mental lapses and sleepiness, as severe as if you'd stayed up all night long. Long-term, lack of sleep can have serious consequences on our health.

DINGES: The less you sleep, the more likely you are to die of all causes, or to have a heart attack or a stroke or to have diabetes or to have weight gain.

GUPTA: Eye opening problems that should make us all want to get a good night's sleep.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GUPTA: All right, so as you can see, not getting enough sleep can be serious. So the question is, are you getting enough? Well take this quiz with us. If you use weekends to catch up on sleep and fight to stay awake during long meetings, you probably need more sleep. Check. Also if I can takes more than 30 minutes for you to fall asleep and you wake up groggy, you might actually be sleep deprived as well and possibly want to see a doctor.

Or you could listen to our guest, Mark Rosekind. He's a sleep specialist. He's a former NASA scientist. And he's president of Alertness Solutions, which sounds like a very interesting place to work. Thanks for joining us.


GUPTA: Doctor, why is sleep so important? Some people, you know, my father always used to tell me that you can sleep when you're dead. A lot of people think of it as a waste of time. What do you think?

ROSEKIND: You know, sleep is so basic for us as humans. It is as a basic need as food, water, air. We just need it for our survival.

And the other part is if losing sleep, you pay for it. And that means you're going to pay with impaired performance, safety, health, mood, the quality of your life. So it is a basic need for us. And if you don't get what you need, you will pay.

GUPTA: You know, it's interesting. And we're going to talk a lot about why we actually sleep during the show, but we are figuring out what happens if we don't sleep. And we received a lot of e-mails on this particular topic.

Let's start from Don in Oregon who writes this, "Does sleep deprivation over an extended period of time contribute to high blood pressure or diabetes?" And if so, why?" And Dr. Rosekind, we've heard a bit about this in the piece obviously, but why does it actually cause long-term health problems?

ROSEKIND: Yes, we're still figuring that one out. It is clear that when you lose sleep, it can reduce your immune function. So you know, when our parents were telling you if you don't sleep, you're going to get sick, that seems to be true.

What we're now understanding is it can also disrupt all other aspects of what's going on in our body like metabolism. So we know even a little bit of sleep loss can affect your metabolism, make you look like you have diabetes, for example.

So we're just learning what the effects are. We don't really fully understand what the mechanisms are yet.

GUPTA: It's really amazing. One of the things we talk a lot about in the piece is someone who doesn't sleep enough could actually put on weight, which people find fascinating. Someone else battling the elusiveness of sleep is Chris in Maryland. He writes this. "I keep waking up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep. I have tried various sleep medications and nothing works. How can I enjoy at least 6 hours of sleep without waking up?"

And Dr. Rosekind, I mean, this sounds like a classic case of insomnia, the most common sleeping disorder. A lot of people complain about this. He's tried the pills already. He's tried good sleep hygiene. What advice do you have for him?

ROSEKIND: You know, one thing is you can actually train yourself to wake up in the middle of the night. We do this to ourselves. We do it to our babies and things like that.

So for example, a couple of very specific things. Don't become a clock watcher. One of the problems is people wake up in the middle of the night, and because of digital clocks, you're over there watching the minutes go by.


ROSEKIND: A second thing is give yourself something to do. Pick a relaxation skill or some technique where you're tensing relaxing muscles, using positive imagery, deep breathing. Don't just lay there worrying about the fact you can't get back to sleep.

And the third thing is we have something we call the 30-minute toss and turn rule. If you can't fall asleep in 30 minutes, you might as well get out of bed rather than just staying in bed and struggling through it.

The other thing is I would just suggest that different sleep medications help you in different ways. So even though Chris has tried some stuff, it might be interesting to talk to his doctor, because there may be one that could help him with maintaining sleep. And he might have been trying ones that were just more helpful say in trying to get to sleep.

GUPTA: You know, that whole idea of actually getting out of bed when you can't sleep is a really good one. I do that myself sometimes. And all of a sudden, I feel a lot sleepier. It works out pretty well for me.

We are talking to Dr. Mark Rosekind. More of your questions answered coming up on HOUSE CALL. Stay with us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drowsy driving. We've all done it, but at what cost?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My kids had a mother one day and took them out the next.

(END VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The devastating effects of sleeplessness just ahead.

Plus, we head to the city of brotherly love, where some residents are swapping their cheesesteaks for working out.

First, take today's quiz. Before the light bulb was invented, how many hours did people sleep? That answer coming up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the break, we asked before the light bulb was invented, how many hours did people sleep? The answer, 10 hours. Compare that to the current average of just seven hours per night.

GUPTA: And most experts will tell you 7 to 9 hours is what most people need to feel rested. And helping you get those Zs is our guest today, Mark Rosekind. He's a sleep specialist, who recently designed bedrooms for U.S. Olympians as well, really interesting, helping them sleep better.

And we also talked with American speed skating gold medallist Apolo Ohno. He aims for nine hours of sleep per night. He says without it, he's not in top form. And that's something to think about for all of us.

So let's jump right back into our inbox. Take an e-mail from Tom in Florida, who's trying to play catch up. "My normal pattern," he says, "is to get five hours of sleep during the weekdays. By Friday, I'm beat and I try to catch up somewhat on weekends with 8-10 hours of sleep. Is this harmful?"

Dr. Rosekind, I got to tell you, just everyone I know, including myself, probably yourself as well, has done this at some point. Is it harmful?

ROSEKIND: This is the American way, it seems. Tom really represents all of us. I wouldn't say it's so much harmful, but what you've got there that basically, it's not just the sleep you had last night, but when you've lost sleep, it builds into what we call a sleep debt.

You should think about that just like your bank account. Basically for every hour of lost sleep, you're going deeper into the red.

For most of us, we're probably bankrupt frankly. And what you see as a classic pattern is, you know, go into debt during the week and then on the weekends, you're trying to recover. And then hopefully, you know, during the week you're OK again enough so you can recover the next weekend.

GUPTA: Is it part of the national debt, Mark? Or is this something you can pay off pretty quickly? ROSEKIND: And you know, it's interesting. Some people think that our national sleep debt probably far exceeds our national economic debt if you add all the hours up together.

But how do you pay it back is a great question. It ends up you pay it back by sleeping deeper, not a lot longer. So the good news is you probably don't have to pay it back hour for hour, but there's bad news. And that is you can't put credit in the bank either. So you've got a bad week coming up, oh, I'll just sleep all weekend and then take it out when I need it. Unfortunately, you can't do that.

GUPTA: All right, well, Tom, good luck with that, getting some of that sleep back.

The most dangerous side effect of not getting enough sleep is accidents. A recent poll showed 60 percent of adult drivers said they have driven drowsy. And according to government figures, this leads to about 100,000 reported auto accidents every year, some of them with very deadly endings.


GUPTA (voice-over): Most of us have felt this way at some time in our lives. Fighting to stay awake behind the wheel.

This man is part of a first of its kind study. 100 cars wired for a year to see how people really drive. Experts say too many of us are like this -- dangerously tired behind the wheel.

DR. CHARLES CZEISLER, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Every second in this country somebody is nodding off or falling asleep at the wheel. And every two minutes, that's 30 times an hour, there's a fall asleep crash on our nation's highways associated with people who haven't gotten enough sleep at night.

GUPTA: According to federal estimates, drowsy driving crashes cause 1500 deaths and 71,000 injuries in the United States every year.

(on camera): If you're one of those people who turns up the radio, or cracks the window when you start nodding off behind the wheel, stop. Experts agree that nothing works well to keep you awake for more than just a few minutes. The only real solution is to get off the road.

(voice-over): Tom Callaghy was driving home from Virginia to Pennsylvania with his wife when he started getting drowsy.

TOM CALLAGHY: Actually left in the middle of Sunday afternoon. And it was a gray sort of overcast day. It had been drizzling, but I was getting sleepy. I turned on the radio, opened the window a little bit. I moved around. And I actually had my hand partway across the seat to wake her up. And the next thing I knew, I had gone off the road and into the trees.

GUPTA: Tom's wife Janey died in that crash. Callaghy talks about the accident to warn others about the dangers of drowsy driving. CALLAGHY: My kids had a mother one day, and simply not the next. I mean, Kathleen said my daughter said that mom went away for the weekend. Just never came home.


GUPTA: And the impact of drowsiness has on your reflexes and your reaction time is amazing. I actually went without sleep for over 30 hours while shooting my sleep special. And you'll see what happens to me when you tune in Sunday night. Really remarkable.

And doctor, if you're not getting enough sleep at night, really quickly, would a nap help?

ROSEKIND: Naps are probably the most powerful strategy that you can use. While I was at NASA, we did a study giving pilots naps in the cockpit. And what we found is that even a 26-minute nap was able to improve performance by 34 percent and their alertness by 54 percent.

GUPTA: All right.

ROSEKIND: An extremely powerful effective strategy.

GUPTA: Even less than half an hour. That's good news for a lot of people out there. We're look at ways for all of us to get more shut eye. That's coming up on HOUSE CALL.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From pills to clips and strips. What is the best way to help you get those Zs? Find out after the break.

And later, why experts say your workout could be cutting down on your shuteye. First, this week's medical headlines in the pulse.


CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bausch and Lomb is discontinuing its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution, saying it may increase the risk of a potentially blinding eye infection. The company had pulled the product last month after it was linked to a rash of fungal eye infections. The solution was sold in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Cabin pressure and lower oxygen levels on airline flights may not increase your risk of getting deep vein thrombosis or DVT. A new study finds no link between those in flight conditions and blood clots. DVT may be linked to sitting for a long time instead of airline cabin conditions.

Christy Feig, CNN.



GUPTA: For more on my special "Sleep", click on Find out whether you've been paying attention to us this morning by taking the sleep quiz. Also if you're interested, click on the dream dictionary, where you can find out whether your dreams are trying to tell you something that you need to know.

We've been talking about sleep with Mark Rosekind. He's a sleep specialist. He's a former NASA scientist. He's also president of Alertness Solutions. And since you're the president of Alertness Solutions, let's talk about some solutions now.

There's certainly a lot of claims out there I hear. Let's start with medication and a question from Erin in Connecticut who writes about that. "Most nights I fall asleep easily but wake up around 2 or 3 and can't get back to sleep for hours. I've started taking an over- the-counter sleeping pill every night and now I feel great in the morning. Will this medicine hurt me in any way?"

And Dr. Rosekind, we hear a lot of stories about not being able to get off these drugs. I mean, are there actually long-term side effects of taking them?

ROSEKIND: Yes, you can get pretty much addicted to almost anything. The caution with the over the counters is that they can last for ten or 12 hours in your system. So you may get your eight hours, but sometimes they can last for a couple hours after you wake up, still making you tired.

GUPTA: So the prescription ones actually come off a little bit quicker, don't they?

ROSEKIND: And that's correct, which is that the prescription medications nowadays can have very short working lives in your system. And they may only last say from one to two, or two to four hours. That's helpful to get asleep, stay asleep, but it's out of your system when you wake up in the morning.

GUPTA: All right. Another question now on help with snoring. A lot of questions about this as well. This one from Walt in Texas.

"I've seen the strip across the nose, nostril clips and throat spray. What works best to help reduce snoring?"

ROSEKIND: I always tell people if snoring is bothering you enough, or somebody in your household for you to seek these things out, you have to talk to your doctor. Because snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, where you can't sleep and breathe at the same time. And that can have very dramatic health effects, as well as put you more at risk for car crashes.

So if it's bothering you that much, you got to see your doctor before you go to any over the counter kind of remedy.

GUPTA: We're talking with Dr. Mark Rosekind about sleep on HOUSE CALL. More after the break. Plus, our Fit Nation tour rolls on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The home of the cheesesteak takes on fat.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This program worked better than we ever anticipated.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our Fit Nation tour stops in Philadelphia and finds out how it went from fattest city to fit city.



GUPTA: Throughout history, it has been college campuses, it has been places like the University of Michigan that have been the seeds of change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody is marketing peas and carrots and corn. So...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most important thing I think is teaching people how to use what they have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really think we have found the weapons of mass destruction. And those weapons of mass destruction are too many calories and too little physical activity.


GUPTA: We're in the midst of our Fit Nation tour to fight obesity. We're really serious about this. And that was just some of what happened at the University of Michigan.

This week, we stopped in Philadelphia, Drexel University, where former President Bill Clinton joined us and talked about his goal of creating a fitter nation.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I personally am optimistic, but I don't think we can get there unless we remove the barriers to access to a healthy life that exist to so many lower income people, which is why I think what Philadelphia has done is so important, and why I hope it will be modeled elsewhere.


GUPTA: And here now just a look at what Philadelphia has done.


GUPTA (voice-over): When it comes to food and fitness, Philadelphia is really best known just for its food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just one of those things. You go to Philadelphia, you have to have a cheesesteak. GUPTA: Home of the world renowned Philly cheesesteak, homemade Italian water ice, soft pretzels, and Tasty cake snacks. Not surprisingly, Philadelphia ranked at the top of the "Men's Fitness" magazine's fattest cities list in 2000.

(on camera): Just about the only fit things associated with Philly are when Rocky ran up these steps training for a fight and the regatta that takes place here on the Schuylkill River.

(voice-over): But in the six years since Philly was dubbed the city of blubbery love, it's managed to slim down to number 23 on the list.

NEAL BOULTON, EDITOR, MEN'S FITNESS: Philadelphia is an amazing success story in this country primarily because the mayor, John Street, has really gotten involved.

GUPTA: Sixty-two year-old Mayor Street sprang into action after the city received its terrible ranking.

JOHN STREET, MAYOR, PHILADELPHIA: We're probably a whole lot fatter than we need to be, and a whole lot less fit than we need to be. And so we just sort of took it as a challenge and started instituting this program.

GUPTA: So Street appointed his childhood friend, nutritionist guru Gwen Foster as the city's first health and fitness czar.

GWEN FOSTER, NUTRITIONIST: I had to think of something that would be cost effective having no budget, and that would be effective. Our signature program, of course is the -- what we call the health journey.

GUPTA: The fitness journey lasts ten weeks. You sign up at a local check point. Once enrolled, you receive a health passport and a pre-health assessment. The passport grants you access to top notch local health clubs and fitness classes, cooking classes and even massages for only $25.

FOSTER: This program worked better than we ever anticipated. A very conservative figure is 30,000 that we can account for.

GUPTA: Experts at "Men's Fitness" say its success is partly the result of the mayor himself leading by example.

STREET: I've run five marathons. And I have run two marathons since I topped 50 years old. I decided, oh, I'm 50, now I'm going to see if I can still run a marathon.

GUPTA: Local doctors are apparently noticing the difference as well.

FOSTER: We know we have a winner, because physicians cannot believe these patients that they have to take them off of their blood pressure medication.

GUPTA: So what about those award winning cheesesteaks?

FOSTER: We're losers, but we're winners.


GUPTA: Did you like that with the Rocky Balboa thing? Huh? Good luck, Philly. Keep up the good work.

More HOUSE CALL, coming up after the break.



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Can working out before bedtime interfere with a good night's sleep? One study published in The Journal of Physiology and Behavior studied college students, who exercised through the evening and found no significant effect on students falling or staying asleep, but ...


COSTELLO: Dr. Rosenberg says some types of late workouts may lead to sleeping problems.

ROSENBERG: I do have a slight concern of the lifting weight - of weights at nighttime and whether some of those weight lifting activities might actually cause some slight discomfort at points in the middle of the night that could wake you up.

COSTELLO: Dr. Rosenberg encourages his patient to exercise, but to stop intensive workouts three hours before bedtime. This allows the body time to cool down.

A preliminary study by a Harvard researcher found 20 minutes of yoga may help you fall asleep.

SAT BIR KHALSA, HARVARD RESEARCHER: The subjects who have done the yoga practice on a regular basis have actually improved their insomnia.

COSTELLO: Carol Costello, CNN.


GUPTA: Our guest has been Dr. Mark Rosekind. Unfortunately, we're getting short on time. Do you have a final thought for our viewers?

ROSEKIND: I think you've got it. Diet, exercise, sleep. They are the basics of health. And you've covered it.

GUPTA: We're trying to do that. You know, we're trying to make America healthy. And I want to thank you for being with us and helping us as well, Dr. Mark Rosekind. Don't forget to watch my sleep special, Dr. Rosekind, everyone at home as well. This weekend, I'm going to talk with the top experts investigating remedies for sleeplessness, the meaning of dreams, and some bizarre sleep disorders that I found as well. You're not going to want to miss this. Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern.

Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay tuned now for more news on CNN.


CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines