Sleep Insufficiency is a Public Health Epidemic! By Craig Schwimmer, MD

 

I spend a lot of time talking with patients about the importance of sleep. Sleep is a basic human need, and is essential to our health and well being. We know that Americans are alarmingly sleep deprived, and that this sleep deprivation takes a toll, not only as individuals, but also as a threat to the public health.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes: “Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.1 Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes. Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.1….. Notably, snoring is a major indicator of obstructive sleep apnea.”

So how do you know that you are getting enough sleep? Simple – if you wake up spontaneously, feeling refreshed every morning, you are most likely meeting your body’s need for sleep. If you rely upon an alarm, and it takes a shower and two cups of coffee to get you going, or if you reach for energy drinks throughout the day, you most likely aren’t.

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