The week leading up to the return of Daylight Saving Time is National Sleep Awareness Week ® , an important week for us sleep advocates to try to increase our ranks, or at the very least, get members of our communities to learn why their sleep is so vital to their health, safety, and well being.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), most Americans do not get the seven to nine hours of sleep each night recommended by sleep experts. In fact, according to a recent NSF poll, nearly one-quarter of America’s adults don’t even get the minimum amount of sleep they say they need to be alert the next day. The result appears to be an epidemic of daytime sleepiness that can impact cognition, performance, and state of mind.
As America’s sleep debt mounts, our health, safety, and productivity decline. That same NSF poll found a clear link between the quantity and quality of respondents’ sleep and their overall mood, behavior and performance. More sleep was associated with less daytime sleepiness and more feelings of energy, happiness and optimism.
Conversely, less sleep was associated with more daytime sleepiness and respondents who were more likely to describe themselves as stressed, sad, and angry. In addition, studies show there are dangerous consequences to sleep deprivation, from decreased cognitive function to falling asleep at the wheel. Sleep deprivation also has been associated with hormonal and metabolic changes that mimic the effects of aging, as well as an increased risk of developing diabetes.
NSF estimates the cost of sleeplessness to the U.S. economy is at least $18 billion a year in lost work productivity. As a health professional , I see patients every day who are paying a high personal price for sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep. That’s why I’m joining with the National Sleep Foundation and hundreds of other organizations across the nation to promote public awareness during National Sleep Awareness Week 2003, March 31 - April 6.
We all need to realize that good sleep is as important as diet and exercise in maintaining our health and safety. Take time to think about your own sleep habits and those of other family members. Pay special attention to teenagers, whose biological clocks are often in conflict with early school start times that can result in teens coming to school to sleepy to learn. Learn what you can do to improve your sleep, how to recognize signs of potentially serious disorders, and where you can go for help. Heed the theme of National Sleep Awareness Week this year, and “Let Sleep Work For You ! ”
Nancy Whiteley RPSGT, Technical Supervisor, Providence Hospital Sleep Apnea Center.
Visit us during National Sleep Awareness Week March 31 – April 6, 2003 to learn about the benefits of adequate sleep and the consequences of sleep disorders. Informational booths will be set up in the main lobby of the hospital, building B and the Wellness Center all week long or call 251-639-2876. You can also contact the National Sleep Foundation.