A nationwide “Sleep Well, Be Well” campaign launched today and will promote widespread awareness of the dangers of chronic sleep loss and untreated sleep illness, encouraging Americans to achieve healthy sleep for improved overall health. The campaign is part of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, a collaboration between the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Sleep Research Society (SRS).
“The urgency of our message cannot be overstated: Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury, and the pursuit of healthy sleep should be one of our top priorities,” says Dr Safwan Badr, president of the AASM and a national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep project, in a release. “Sufficient sleep is one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle–as important as good nutrition and regular exercise. There’s no avoiding it or catching up: You must sleep well to be well.”
CDC data indicate that 28% of US adults report sleeping 6 hours or less in a 24-hour period. Poor sleep health increases the risk of physical and mental health problems, mortality, accidents, injuries, and disability.
“Poor sleep has a cumulative impact on nearly every key indicator of public health, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes,” says Janet B. Croft, PhD, senior chronic disease epidemiologist, in the CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Healthy sleep is a vital sign of good health.”
The Healthy Sleep project recommends the following tips to “Sleep Well, Be Well”:
Quantity: Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Most adults need at least 7 hours of nightly sleep for optimal health and productivity. Set a regular bedtime that is early enough for you to get a full night of sleep. A recent CDC study linked too little sleep (6 hours or less) with chronic diseases—including coronary heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and obesity.
Quality: Getting good sleep is important, too. Simply achieving 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night isn’t enough: You also need quality sleep. Avoid anything that can lead to fitful, interrupted sleep.
“It’s important to understand that both the quality and quantity of sleep impact your health,” says SRS President Janet Mullington, PhD. “Alcohol, caffeine, and some medications can negatively impact the quality of your sleep–leaving you tossing, turning, and waking up feeling unrefreshed despite the opportunity for enough sleep.”
Timing: Follow a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Your body sleeps best at night, when it is dark, and functions best when you keep a regular routine. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning.
Health: Seek help for your sleep problems. Can’t stop snoring? Besides being a nuisance to your bed partner, loud and frequent snoring can be a warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a dangerous, potentially life-threatening disease characterized by episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep. As many as 12-18 million adults in the United States have untreated OSA, and seeking treatment could lead to better sleep, improved health, and a better quality of life.
“Millions of people have an untreated sleep illness that prevents them from achieving healthy sleep,” says Badr. “Effective treatment of a sleep problem can be life-changing, helping you to be healthier and happier.”