The American Health Crisis That’s Bigger Than Obesity
Life + Money

The American Health Crisis That’s Bigger Than Obesity

Not getting enough sleep at night? You’re not alone. A lack of sufficient sleep is the most common unhealthy behavior among Americans, according to new research.

A new study from the United Health Foundation looked at how pervasive five unhealthy behaviors and conditions — smoking, excessive drinking, inadequate sleep, physical inactivity and obesity — are among American adults. These five were chosen due to their connections with heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Insufficient sleep, characterized as less than seven hours of shut-eye per night, plagues 34.7 percent of Americans. Nearly 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep and wakefulness disorders.

Related: 17 Products to Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Although lack of sleep might seem like a minor problem that can be solved by a strong cup of coffee or two, it’s not that simple. A sufficient amount of sleep is necessary to help the body metabolize sugar and help the immune system function properly.

Adults who get less than seven hours of sleep on average are more likely to have chronic illnesses such as depression, cancer, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Poor sleep is also linked to an uptick in car accidents and occupational errors.

But it’s not all bad news. The report found that the portion of the population getting insufficient sleep dropped six-tenths of a percentage point from 35.3 percent in 2014.

Related: Are You Getting Enough Sleep? These 10 Tips Could Help

Obesity is the second most common of the five health issues in the study, afflicting 29.6 percent of adults. The study found that more than 70 percent of adults have at least one of the unhealthy behaviors or conditions, while 12 percent have at least three.