EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Sleep is a hot commodity. However, a lack of sleep is an epidemic in America. Without proper sleep, learning problems in kids can develop and cause long-term health effects in adults.

From over-the-counter sleep aids to prescription medications to sleep apps, today’s sleep market is inundated with products to promote sound sleep. For Mary Jo Preno of Scranton, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t easy.

Mary Jo is like many people in America.

“I can fall asleep, sometimes I have issues staying asleep,” said Mary Jo Preno, Scranton.

Kacie Kuchinskis also has sleep issues. That’s why she takes the over-the-counter sleep aid melatonin every night.

“If I don’t take melatonin, I don’t sleep,” said Kacie Kuchinskis, Scranton.

A lack of sleep wreaks havoc on the body physically, mentally, and emotionally. About 50 percent of adults and 25 percent of school-aged kids suffer from insomnia, problems falling or staying asleep. That figure rises to 40 percent among adolescents. That’s according to the sleep research and treatment center at Penn State University College of Medicine.

“There is no fast fix,” explained Dr. Anne Marie Morse, sleep specialist, Geisinger.

Dr. Anne Marie Morse is a sleep specialist and pediatric neurologist with Geisinger.

But the question remains, why are there so many problems with the ability to sleep naturally for 7-9 hours?

“We have developed this culture, I can get away with less sleep. Many times people are curtailing their sleep to take on more things during their waking hours,” said Dr. Morse.

Not only does Dr. Morse advise sleeping in a cool, comfortable, quiet, and dark space, but some people even rely on a particular pillow to get some much-needed zzzs.

Other tips Dr. Morse suggests are to maintain a sleep schedule and avoid screen time 30-60 minutes before bedtime. One main reason is the blue light that screens emit.

It talks to our eyes, it talks to our brains, it tells the brain to not produce. Many times were using e-mails, social media, it keeps us engaged and awake, even after we shut them off our brains will ruminate about it. And it perpetuates wakefulness,” Dr. Morse explains.

Remember, over-the-counter sleep aids are meant for short-term use. Other tips to promote a restful night’s sleep: take a hot shower or bath, read a book, stretch, do yoga, and meditate. It’s also very important to maintain a sleep schedule and if sleep problems continue consult a sleep specialist.