Sleeping well ‘essential’ to personal health and public safety

June 30, 2021

A new position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has highlighted that sleep is a biological necessity. The AASM also underscored that not getting enough sleep, as well as untreated sleep disorders, has significant and detrimental effects on health, well-being, and public safety – officially recognising the importance of sleep would go a long way towards promoting a greater emphasis on sleep health in education, clinical practice, the workplace, and public health campaigns.

According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Child Health Bureau, some 34.1% of children, 74.6% of high school students, and 32.5% of adults in the US don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis.

“Healthy sleep is as important as proper nutrition and regular exercise for our health and well-being, and sleep is critical for performance and safety,” said AASM President Dr. Kannan Ramar.

The effects of chronic insufficient sleep, as listed by AASM’s board of directors – which includes sleep physicians and a clinical psychologist – include increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, workplace accidents, and causing motor vehicle crashes.

The statement thus promotes regular monitoring of sleeping habits, and any sleep-associated symptoms, of patients during every physician encounter; hospitals and long-term care facilities should optimise sleep conditions, to ensure their patients get enough rest.

Meanwhile, sleep education should have a prominent place in school and college health education, including medical school and graduate medical education. Educational programmes for other health professionals could further help in this regard.

“Education about sleep and sleep disorders is lacking in medical school curricula, graduate medical education, and education programs for other health professionals,” said Dr. Ramar. “Better sleep health education will enable our health care workforce to provide more patient-centered care for people who have common sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea and insomnia.”

The AASM additionally adds that public health and workplace interventions should aim to encourage healthy sleeping habits and behaviours that help people attain healthy sleep.

“It is the position of the AASM that sleep is essential to health, and we are urging educators, health care professionals, government agencies, and employers to prioritize the promotion of healthy sleep.”

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Category: Education, Features

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