A global call to action, authored by an international group of experts on behalf of the World Sleep Society, is urging decision-makers to recognize sleep health as a foundation of human health. 

The viewpoint, published in The Lancet Public Health, specifies three actions for governments at all levels, researchers, and other stakeholders:

  • Educate: Promote sleep and circadian health education and awareness
  • Research: Collect and centralize standard sleep and circadian data in every country
  • Implement public health policies: Include sleep health initiatives to advance public health agendas

Improve Sleep to Improve Overall Health

Like nutrition and physical activity, sleep health is a uniquely powerful target for interventions that improve overall health, yet most countries do not include sleep health in their public health agendas, according to a release from the World Sleep Society.

“There is strong evidence that sleep is essential for physical and mental health, as well as well-being, across the entire lifespan. Disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms significantly increases the risk for dementia, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Now is the time to integrate sleep and circadian health programs to promote the health span worldwide. No public health agenda is sufficient without the inclusion of sleep,” says Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, chair of the World Sleep Society Global Sleep Health Task Force and president of the World Sleep Society, in a release.

The Costs of Inaction

The World Sleep Society notes that the costs of inaction are clear: avoidable burdens on health systems and continued exacerbation of global health inequities. 

“Our viewpoint describes in brief the wide-ranging consequences of poor sleep health for individuals, communities, and governments worldwide. We are already bearing these burdens. We need action in these three areas—awareness, research, and public policy—to lighten those burdens and improve lives,” say Diane C. Lim, MD, and Arezu Najafi, MD, lead co-authors of the article, in a release.

Standardize Data Collection

For its own part, the international research community must standardize data collection on global sleep health, according to a release from the World Sleep Society. 

“Researchers across many disciplines such as occupational health and urban planning who are interested in leveraging the science of sleep and circadian health to ultimately improve population health both locally and internationally must work together to collect, in a standardized fashion, the multi-dimensional sleep and circadian data that decision-makers need,” says Chandra Jackson, PhD, senior investigator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, and co-senior author of the viewpoint, in a release.

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