This is an article by James M. Gregory.
50 – 70 million.
That would be the answer if the question were, “How many people in the US have a sleep disorder?”
That number might seem innocent on its own. So people don’t sleep well, no big deal, right? You might shrug it off if you don’t dig deeper and look at the ominous statistics about fatalities and injuries related to sleep deprivation (as reported by sleepassociation.org):
- 1,550 fatal and 40,000 non-fatal injuries directly caused by drowsy driving alone
- 100,000 fatal outcomes related to medical errors caused by sleep deprivation
An issue with the stats
There are gaping flaws in the statistical model we’re using today. Any sleep therapist with a modern approach could probably write an essay on all the things the stats can’t tell you.
The topic is beyond the scope of this article, but let us takes a moment to point out 3 obvious problems:
- What constitutes a sleep disorder?
- How many people are diagnosed vs. how many are suffering in silence or don’t even know they have a problem?
- How many people involved in the sleep-related accidents or medical errors will be open about it?
You see a pattern here – most of the stats we have are subjective. To be honest, the issue of subjectivity is tricky and there isn’t much we can do about it. Furthermore, statistical models have a way of improving on their own as science moves forward and we tweak the models.