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Inside the Story: Americans not getting enough sleep

The Centers for Disease Control is suggesting health care providers need to do a better job of talking to their patients about sleeping more.

If you find yourself constantly tired and lacking energy, you're not alone. Simply put, Americans aren't getting enough sleep.

You've probably heard that magic number before: 8 hours. Yet, in today's society, it's becoming a more and more elusive number to hit.

A recent Centers for Disease Control study found that more than a third of adults in the U.S. don't get enough sleep, and 13 percent of us get five hours a night or less.

It's gotten so bad, the CDC is suggesting health care providers need to do a better job of talking to their patients about sleeping more.

"It's always been underappreciated," said Dr. Michael Lucia, a pulmonologist and certified sleep specialist. He adds, "It's one of those things you could sacrifice for work, or for your children or homework. We now know the mechanisms as to why that's such an unhealthy habit."

Dr. Lucia says there are many culprits to Americans sleeping less: shift work, family activities, and that tightening, constant grip Americans seem to have on their electronic devices.

What many of us don't know is there are some dangerous side-affects besides just being tired.

"Because sleep deprivation increases inflammation throughout the entire body, and there's new data from European and U.S. Studies showing that people with sleep disorders and those who don't sleep enough have higher rates of diseases across the board including cancer," said Lucia.

Besides being overworked and overstressed, some lack sleep due to problems they never knew they had -- problems like sleep apnea, where blockages in your breathing path lead to constant wake-ups and interruptions during the night.

Lucia said, "It's the fragmentation of the sleep and the short duration of sleep. Both lead to all the disease states and inflammation."

With three young boys and a daily alarm that's been going off at 3 a.m. for 18 years, I decided to get an exam myself. Not just on the amount of sleep I'm getting, but the quality of sleep.

After my exam, Dr. Lucia determined I'm at a high risk for at least moderate sleep apnea.

The next step is a sleep study, where I'll be hooked up to all sorts of wires and monitors to see for sure. We'll have the results for you coming up in our next edition of "Inside the Story."

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