The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) hosted the first Congressional Briefing on sleep health and mental health as part of the organization’s 2024 Sleep Awareness Week campaign.

The Congressional Briefing, entitled Sleep Health is Mental Health, complements NSF’s efforts to educate the public and policymakers about the importance of sleep for health and well-being. Members of Congress, staff, and interested stakeholders heard from a multidisciplinary expert panel about the connection between sleep health and mental health. 

The purpose was to share current evidence and discuss opportunities for actionable solutions, while Congress works towards comprehensive mental health legislation. In July 2023, NSF hosted the first Congressional Briefing on Sleep Health Equity.

The US Surgeon General, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, have indicated the “mental health crisis” is among the biggest health challenges currently facing the United States.

NSF’s Congressional Briefing took place alongside other Sleep Awareness Week activities and events including the release of NSF’s latest Sleep in America Poll results. NSF’s 2024 survey demonstrated the link between teens’ sleep health and mental health and also found that teens who practiced more healthy sleep behaviors reported lower levels of depressive symptoms. These results build on the NSF’s 2023 survey of US adults, which showed this same strong, two-way connection between sleep health and mental health.

“One of National Sleep Foundation’s purposes is to help equip policymakers and institutions to effect positive change, and sleep health and mental health are public health priorities. People are in crisis, so it’s important we emphasize the clear connection between the two,” says John Lopos, CEO of NSF, in a release. “We’re thankful to have had the chance to host the first-ever Congressional Briefing on this topic and prime an essential conversation on the Hill.”

The briefing began with introductory remarks from members of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus representatives Buddy Carter (GA), Jamie Raskin (MD), and Paul Tonko (NY) and included provider insights presented by Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi, MD, PhD, chair of NSF’s board of directors. NSF data was presented by NSF vice president of research and scientific affairs Joseph Dzierzewski, PhD, with an address from Joshua Gordon, MD, PhD, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, among other speakers.

Also during Sleep Awareness Week 2024, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD) submitted an extension of remarks to the Congressional Record recognizing the campaign. “As we mark Sleep Awareness Week, recognized this year by the National Sleep Foundation between March 10-16, we must elevate the importance of sleep health to our mental and physical health and confront the sleep disparities that closely correspond to racial and socioeconomic inequalities,” Raskin said. 

Raskin’s remarks were an extension to House Resolution 232, recognizing the importance of sleep health and expressing support for the designation of Sleep Awareness Week. Every year, NSF independently produces Sleep Awareness Week, a campaign for sleep health.

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