Today is World Sleep Day. Created in 2008 and hosted by World Sleep Society, World Sleep Day is an internationally recognised event that builds connections and raises sleep health awareness among researchers, health care workers, patients, and the public. Participants from each of these stakeholder groups organize sleep health awareness activities in their local clinics, institutions, companies, and communities.
The theme for World Sleep Day this year is "Sleep is Essential for Health". Just like eating well and exercising, sleep is a behaviour that is crucial to everyone's physical, mental, and social well-being. As shown on the graphic above, poor sleep health can lead to a number of physical, mental and even economic problems.
That's why it is important to take away a number of key messages that the World Sleep Day Team have provided.
Key Message 1: Healthy sleep is more than simple duration.
Three elements of good quality sleep are:
- Duration: The length of sleep should be sufficient for the sleeper to be rested and alert the following day.
- Continuity: Sleep periods should be seamless without fragmentation.
- Depth: Sleep should be deep enough to be restorative.
Key Message 2: Sleep is a pillar of human health.
The World Health Organization defines “health” as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Decades of research have demonstrated the significance of sleep for physical, mental, and social well-being. Sleep is essential to health. It is a critical pillar of health, like nutrition and physical activity.
- Sleep helps support memory and learning.
- Sleep helps clear waste from the brain and promote brain health.
- Sleep supports brain health, and brain health supports sleep.
- Sleep supports immune health, and immune health supports sleep.
- Sleep helps the immune system to clear bacteria and viruses.
- Sleep helps to recycle old cells and maintain our bodies and energy levels.
- Sleep health is unevenly distributed across populations and is an important target for improving health equity.
- Poor sleep health can have multiple significant impacts on human health.
- Poor sleep has been linked to obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and cardiovascular mortality.
- Poor sleep can lower immune response, creating greater susceptibility to infections that further reduce sleep quality.
- Certain sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnoea and rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder are associated with cognitive impairment, dementia, risk of seizures, and increased risk of stroke.
- Poor sleep can result in reduced reaction times, impaired judgment, and cognitive impairment similar in effect to alcohol intoxication.
- Drowsiness can impair safe driving even if the driver does not fall asleep.
There are a number of resources available to help you improve your sleep health. These include: