Calling sleep a “health imperative,” authors from leading clinical and scientific sleep societies urge the nation’s health stakeholders to take notice.

A joint white paper by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society (SRS) emphasizing the importance of sleep and directed at the nation’s health stakeholders is being published in the June 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

“Sleep: A Health Imperative” summarizes the scientific evidence showing that sufficient sleep and circadian alignment in adults is as important to health as good nutrition and adequate exercise. The paper specifically discusses the associations between sleep deficiency, defined as a state of inadequate or mistimed sleep, and major health risks such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. The paper also emphasizes that sleep deprivation is a threat to public safety because it increases the risk of work-related accidents and motor vehicle crashes.

Conclusions from the paper state that:

  • Sleep deficiency is a growing and underappreciated determinant of health status.
  • The societal consequences of sleep deficiency are enormous.
  • It is a public health imperative to determine the mechanisms underlying the adverse health effects of sleep deficiency.
  • It is critical to assess countermeasures directed at improving sleep and overall health in people suffering from chronic sleep deficiency.
  • Increasing sleep duration may be more achievable than other health-promoting behaviors such as improving nutrition and increasing activity levels.

The paper urges health care personnel, government agencies, educational institutions, employers, community organizations, industry leaders, individuals, and families to prioritize sleep for the betterment of personal and societal health.