An American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine focused on the importance of sleep to health and provided several recommendations and objectives to improve health, productivity, well-being , quality of life, and safety by maintaining adequate sleep duration, quality, timing and regularity.
Current data supports the importance of healthy sleep for cognitive and mood function, as well as cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and metabolic health. Chronic insufficient sleep was found to be associated with increased morbidity and mortality, while extending nightly sleep duration in these patients was associated with health benefits.
To promote optimal health, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recommended that an average adult should regularly sleep at least 7 hours per night. The recommended sleep duration for children varied by age range.
Data suggested that approximately a third of children (34.1%) and adults (32.5%) fail to get a sufficient duration of sleep on a regular basis, as do 74.6% of high school students. One of the Healthy People 2030 sleep objectives is to increase the proportion of individuals who get enough sleep.
Additional Health People 2030 sleep objectives include reduction in the rate of motor vehicle accidents secondary to drowsy driving, increasing the proportion of adults with sleep apnea symptoms who get evaluated by their physician, improving the rates of putting babies to sleep on their back, and maintaining a safe sleep environment for infants.
The position statement called for clinicians to routinely inquire about sleep habits, symptoms of sleep, and circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders during patient encounters.
One of the objectives set for 2030 is to delay school start time, as this intervention may improve sleep duration for adolescents. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine posited that middle and high school start times should be 8:30 AM or later. For college students who report their academic performance may be adversely affected by sleep problems, psychological intervention may be valuable.
The position statement also provided a recommendation to include education on sleep and sleep disorders in medical school curricula. Similarly, sleep-specific continuing education may improve the comfort levels of physicians in various disciplines for discussing, diagnosing and treating sleep disorders.
Interventions to optimize daytime and night-time lighting or to reduce noise in hospitals and long-term care facilities may improve patients’ sleep duration and quality.
Workplace health programs may also be valuable to improve sleep duration and sleep quality. Permitting naps during work breaks, modifying environmental factors to promote worker well-being, and referring patients for specialists may improve sleep, reduce fatigue, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, and improve performance.
“To promote public health and safety, widespread support is needed to increase sleep education, improve sleep disorders screening, optimize sleep conditions for inpatients and residents of long-term care facilities, optimize sleep health through public health and workplace interventions, and expand sleep health research,” concluded the study researchers.
Ramar K, Malhotra RK, Carden KA, et al. Sleep is essential to health: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. J Clin Sleep Med. Published online June 21, 2021. doi:10.5664/jcsm.9476