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Do you feel like you don’t get enough sleep? You’re not alone. The American Sleep Apnea Association (NIH) estimates that sleep-related problems affect 50-70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes. The Sleep Advisor shared the following statistics regarding the right amount of sleep:

  • 35% of adults don’t get enough sleep (at least 7 hours of sleep per day)
  • 20% of teenagers get less than 5 hours of sleep per day
  • Lack of sleep costs the U.S. over $411 billion annually
  • Almost 20% of all car crash accidents and injuries are associated with sleepiness

How much sleep do I need?

For years you have heard people say “You need eight hours of sleep.” But this is just the average. Sufficient sleep duration requirements vary across the lifespan and from person to person.

The National Sleep Foundation put together an expert panel to evaluate the right amount of sleep. The table below includes their results.

Recommended Sleep Durations
AgeRecommended HoursAcceptable HoursNot Recommended Hours
Newborns
(0-3 months)
14 to 1711 to 13 or
18 to 19
Less than 11
More than 19
Infants
(4-11 months)
12 to 1510 to 11 or
16 to 18
Less than 10
More than 18
Toddlers
(1-2 years)
11 to 149 to 10 or
15 to 16
Less than 9
More than 16
Preschoolers
(3-5 years)
10 to 138 to 9
or 14
Less than 8
More than 14
School-aged children
(6-13 years)
9 to 117 to 8
or 12
Less than 7
More than 12
Teenagers
(14-17 years)
8 to 107 or 11Less than 7
More than 11
Young Adults
(18-25 years)
7 to 96 or
10 to 11
Less than 6
More than 11
Adults
(26-64 years)
7 to 96 or 10Less than 6
More than 10
Older adults
(65+ years)
7 to 95 to 6
or 9
Less than 5
More than 9

How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Health

The cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders represent an under-recognized public health problem.

Our sleep affects physical activity, nutrition, mental wellbeing, and substance use. Each of these, in turn, influences the amount and quality of our sleep.  These factors also independently influence one another, creating an intricate web that supports or harms overall health.

Sleep apnea and insomnia are two of the most obvious sleep-related medical conditions that can affect your life insurance underwriting. But hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke also can come into play.

The cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders represent an under-recognized public health problem.

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​Lack of Sleep and Cardiovascular Risk

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a primary driver of mortality. Quality and the right amount of sleep are strongly correlated to CVD.

There are four key clinical CVD risk factors: increased body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure, poor cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

The likelihood of having high blood pressure, suffering from poor cholesterol, being overweight, or having diabetes is significantly associated with sleep duration. Sleeping less or experiencing disturbed sleep puts you at a greater risk for developing these health conditions.

Lack of Sleep and Sleep Apnea

In this case, it’s lack of quality sleep that may be an indicator of an issue. Sleep apnea can lead to sleep deprivation from constant nightly interruptions and shallower overall sleep. This then leads to drowsiness during the daytime.

Sleep apnea, if not treated, can lead to hypertension, heart problems, lung damage, lack of concentration, and a high risk of driving accidents.

» Learn more: Does Sleep Apnea Affect Life Insurance Rates?

Too Much Sleep Isn’t the Answer Either

Seven hours per night is the magic number for adults. Longer sleep may be a consequence of an underlying health condition that reduces sleep quality.

As mentioned earlier, someone with untreated sleep apnea does not get quality sleep. Therefore, you’re constantly tired and may take naps or sleep long hours. Unfortunately, even while trying to sleep, multiple interruptions prevent you from sleeping well.

Too much sleep could be a symptom of depression. Poor sleep can contribute to the development of depression, yet having depression makes a person more likely to develop sleep issues. This complex relationship can make it challenging to know which came first, sleep issues or depression.

Sleeping too much also creates a low level of physical activity and poor general health. Low economic status and unemployment are also associated with too much sleep, and statistically both factors correlate with higher mortality rates.

Can My Lack of Sleep Affect Buying Life Insurance?

Yes. A sleeping disorder can create other health issues. Therefore, a sleeping issue will be evaluated thoroughly by a life insurance underwriter.

Term life insurance is quite affordable and can fit into most budgets. But if you have medical issues, they can cause your insurance to be more expensive to purchase.

Certain medical conditions can impact your mortality risk, in other words, increase your risk of dying prematurely. An applicant with one or more of these medical conditions will be considered risky to insure. To offset the insurance company’s risk, they ask the applicant to pay higher premiums.

When you buy life insurance, you buy it so you can leave your family money if you die unexpectedly. Life insurance companies gamble that you are actually going to live, instead of die.

If you live, hooray for you and your family! If you die, the life insurance company writes a large check for thousands (perhaps millions) of dollars to your loved ones.

» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator

Life insurance companies work with actuaries who calculate the mortality risk of every single health and lifestyle factor possible to determine how much a person’s life is worth to insure. It sounds morbid, and it technically is.

But imagine that life insurance companies let John Smith, the sickest man in the world, pay the same for life insurance as Sam Johnson, the healthiest man in the world. This would not be fair to Sam. And the life insurance companies would quickly become bankrupt, and no families would be able to purchase life insurance.

Getting the right amount of sleep is important—maybe even more important than you originally thought. Motivate yourself to change your sleeping patterns if you need to. If you have tried different routines and nothing is helping, speak to your doctor or a sleep professional.

If you don’t yet have life insurance, you can start the process today. Get free life insurance quotes instantly.

There’s no risk in applying now. If you’re approved by the life insurance company, you can accept the policy. If you’re not satisfied with the offer, you can walk away.

We recommend buying life insurance as soon as you need it because you never know what may happen tomorrow. If you believe your sleeping disorder or related medical issues will improve in the future, you can always reapply down the road to see if you can qualify for a better rate.

 

Photo credit to: Donnie Ray Jones

 

About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius

Marketing Content Manager

Natasha is a writer and content editor at Quotacy. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. She can't get enough of life insurance and outside of work is also working toward her Chartered Life Underwriter designation. Connect with her on LinkedIn.