News Release

Friday, November 21, 2014

NIH research featured in National Geographic Channel documentary on sleep

The National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the National Geographic Channel and The Public Good Projects, will draw the nation’s attention to the health consequences of sleep deprivation and what keeps Americans up at night. The documentary, Sleepless in America, premieres on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, November 30th at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

“Feeling tired is only one consequence of getting poor quality sleep,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “NIH-funded research has helped illuminate a wide array of health challenges stemming from chronic sleep problems. Researchers have uncovered links between poor sleep and health issues ranging from obesity to cardiovascular disease to mental health disorders.”

Common belief may hold that it gets harder to sleep the older you get, but sleep problems take a great toll on all ages, including young Americans: 70 percent of high school adolescents are sleep deprived, increasing their risk of suicide, mood problems and delinquency. Millions of U.S. adults have sleep apnea, and up to 80 percent don’t even know it. Recent research has also shown that poor sleep may cause cancer to grow twice as fast in lab mice, and that sleeping too little might lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Chances are you didn’t sleep enough last night. Lack of sleep is a surprisingly serious public health issue, and it’s essential to enlighten the public before the problem becomes unmanageable,” said John Hoffman of The Public Good Projects.

The special also brings viewers into the lives of people who have been profoundly affected by our society’s failure to prioritize sleep. The film also explores the larger societal forces behind America’s sleeplessness, from the light bulb to work schedules.

About the National Geographic Channel: Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation’s major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC currently available in over 85 million U.S. homes. Globally, National Geographic Channel is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 45 languages. For more information, visit .

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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