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New position statement emphasizes sleep is essential to health, should have a ‘prominent place’ in K-12 education

The statement highlights the significance of sleep for the health and well-being of children, adolescents, and adults. According to the statement, sleep education should be emphasized in K-12 and college health education, medical school and graduate medical education, and training programs for other health professionals.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has issued a new statement emphasizing that sleep is a biological requirement and that inadequate sleep and untreated sleep disorders are harmful to one’s health, well-being, and public safety.

The statement, which was published online in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, emphasizes the importance of sleep for children, adolescents, and adults’ health and well-being. While public knowledge of the importance of sleep has grown in the recent decade, more focus on sleep health is still needed in education, clinical practice, inpatient and long-term care, public health promotion, and the workplace.

“Healthy sleep is as important as proper nutrition and regular exercise for our health and well-being, and sleep is critical for performance and safety,” said AASM President Dr. Kannan Ramar. “It is the position of the AASM that sleep is essential to health, and we are urging educators, health care professionals, government agencies, and employers to prioritize the promotion of healthy sleep.”

The statement was drafted by the members of the AASM board of directors, which includes 11 sleep medicine physicians and a clinical psychologist. The authors expressed the following viewpoints in acknowledgment of sleep’s crucial and multi-faceted links to health and chronic disease:

  • Sleep education should have a prominent place in K-12 and college health education, medical school and graduate medical education, and educational programs for other health professionals.
  • During patient visits, clinicians should ask about sleep patterns and symptoms of sleep and circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, and hospitals and long-term care institutions should improve sleep environments.
  • To enhance health-related outcomes, public health and workplace interventions should focus on good sleep, and habits that assist people in achieving healthy sleep should be actively supported.
  • To better understand the relevance of sleep for public health and the implications of insufficient sleep to health inequalities, more sleep and circadian research is needed.

“Education about sleep and sleep disorders is lacking in medical school curricula, graduate medical education, and education programs for other health professionals,” said Ramar. “Better sleep health education will enable our health care workforce to provide more patient-centered care for people who have common sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia.”

Chronic inadequate sleep and untreated sleep problems, according to the study’s authors, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, occupational accidents, and motor vehicle collisions.

According to the CDC and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, 34.1 percent of children, 74.6 percent of high school students, and 32.5 percent of adults in the United States do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. As a result, one of the aims of Healthy Individuals 2030, which sets 10-year, quantifiable public health goals for the United States, is to help people get adequate sleep.

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