A new position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) emphasizes that sleep is a biological necessity, and insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders are detrimental for health, well-being, and public safety.
Published online in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the statement notes that sleep is vital for health and well-being in children, adolescents, and adults. While awareness of the value of sleep has risen in the last decade, there is a significant need for greater emphasis on sleep health in education, clinical practice, inpatient and long-term care, public health promotion, and the workplace.
“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,” says AASM president Kannan Ramar, MBBS, MD, in a release. “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.”
The statement was written by the members of the 2020 – 2021 AASM board of directors, comprising 11 sleep medicine physicians and a clinical psychologist. In recognition of sleep’s significant and multi-faceted connections to health and chronic disease, the authors outlined the following positions:
- Sleep education should have a prominent place in K-12 and college health education, medical school and graduate medical education, and educational programs for other health professionals.
- Clinicians should routinely inquire about sleep habits and symptoms of sleep and circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders during patient encounters, and hospitals and long-term care facilities should optimize sleep conditions.
- Healthy sleep should be targeted by public health and workplace interventions to improve health-related outcomes, and behaviors that help people attain healthy sleep should be actively promoted.
- More sleep and circadian research is needed to further elucidate the importance of sleep for public health and the contributions of insufficient sleep to health disparities.
“Education about sleep and sleep disorders is lacking in medical school curricula, graduate medical education, and education programs for other health professionals,” says 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 apnea and insomnia.”
According to the authors, chronic insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders are linked to increased health and safety risks such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, workplace accidents, and motor vehicle crashes. Data from surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau show that 34.1% of children, 74.6% of high school students, and 32.5% of adults in the U.S. fail to get a sufficient duration of sleep on a regular basis. Therefore, helping people get enough sleep is one of the goals of Healthy People 2030, which provides 10-year, measurable public health objectives for the United States.
The AASM position statement declaring that sleep is essential to health has been endorsed by more than 25 medical, scientific, patient, and safety organizations:
- Alliance of Sleep Apnea Partners
- American Academy of Cardiovascular Sleep Medicine
- American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
- American Academy of Neurology
- American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
- American Academy of Physician Assistants
- American Association of Clinical Endocrinology
- American College of Preventive Medicine
- American Geriatrics Society*
- American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
- American Society of Addiction Medicine
- American Society of Anesthesiologists*
- American Thoracic Society
- Circadian Sleep Disorders Network
- International REM Sleep Behavior Disorder Study Group
- National Safety Council
- National Sleep Foundation
- Obesity Action Coalition
- Project Sleep
- Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation
- Sleep Research Society
- Society for Research on Biological Rhythms
- Society of Anesthesia and Sleep Medicine
- Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine
- Start School Later
- Wake Up Narcolepsy
- World Sleep Society
*The American Geriatrics Society supports the general principles in the document and believes it is of general benefit to its membership. The American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Administrative Council approved support for the position statement with qualifications; since the document has neither been presented to nor approved by either the ASA Board of Directors or House of Delegates, it is not an official or approved statement or policy of the Society. Variances from the recommendations contained in the document may be acceptable based on the judgment of the responsible anesthesiologist.