I have written about the importance of sleep and how the lack of sleep impacts our physical and mental health. Sleep allows the mind and body to recharge, allows the body to repair itself and having a healthy sleep schedule means the body is fit and free from disease. . Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly and getting adequate rest may help prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and increased illness duration which can impair the ability to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories. A basic human need, much like eating and drinking, sleep is crucial to our overall health and well-being with research showing we spend up to a third of our lives sleeping. Sleep, like exercise and nutrition, is essential for metabolic regulation in children and there is evidence for a link between sleep duration and childhood obesity with the findings more apparent in girls than boys.
But this is not the case these days. Electronics, social media and other distractions make sure that we do not get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep that healthy adults need. It is estimated that sleep deprivation costs the US over $400 billion a year with Japan losing $138 billion, Germany $60 billion, the UK $50 billion, and Canada $21 billion. According to some evidence, the proportion of people sleeping less than the recommended hours of sleep is rising and associated with lifestyle factors related to a modern 24/7 society, such as psychosocial stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of physical activity and excessive electronic media use, among others.
This is alarming as insufficient sleep is associated with a range of negative health and social outcomes, including success at school and in the labour market. Over the last few decades, for example, there has been growing evidence suggesting a strong association between short sleep duration and elevated mortality risks. Insufficient sleep duration has been linked with seven of the fifteen leading causes of death in the United States, including cardiovascular disease, malignant neoplasm, cerebrovascular disease, accidents, diabetes, septicaemia and hypertension and besides impairing health and wellbeing, existing evidence suggests that sleep plays an important part in determining cognitive performance and workplace productivity, with a lack of sleep leading to more traffic accidents, industrial accidents, medical errors and loss of work productivity. Sleep loss and sleep-related disorders have been linked to many accidents and catastrophes including the Chernobyl nuclear explosion, the Three Mile Island nuclear incident, the Exxon Valdez spill and the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy
And to put a spotlight on the importance of sleep, every year an annual event, the World Sleep Day is organised by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society which aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. The World Sleep Day is an annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects and driving.
Held annually since 2008, World Sleep Day is held on the Friday before the Spring Vernal Equinox of each year. This year the Spring Vernal Equinox falls on Sunday 20 March and so today is celebrated as World Sleep Day with more than 88 countries around the world participating.
Every year, World Sleep Day has a different theme with the theme for 2022 being “Quality Sleep, Sound Mind, Happy World”. The theme highlights the various components which make up quality sleep as opposed to just sleeping, how sleep affects mental health, mood, and decision-making and sleep in the context of global health.
Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep is known to have a significant negative impact on our health in the long and short term. Next day effects of poor quality sleep include a negative impact on our attention span, memory recall and learning. Longer-term effects are being studied, but poor quality sleep or sleep deprivation has been associated with significant health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, weakened immune systems and even some cancers. The lack of sleep is related to many psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and psychosis and so quality sleep is crucial to ensure good health and quality of life.
For more information about sleep and resources that one can use, go to www.worldsleepday.org. Become aware of the importance of sleep and take charge of your own and your family’s sleeping habits. It’s not easy giving up habits like using the phone before bedtime, but with time, you should be able to get a good night’s sleep!