World Sleep Day Attracts Awareness

March 14 is World Sleep day, and no less than the Los Angeles Times devoted a page of ink to the task of recognizing and celebrating the value of sleep. We harken back to last year’s National Sleep Foundation poll that found nearly four in five Americans don’t get as much sleep as they should during the work week.

The article, entitled World Sleep Day is Meant to Be a Wakeup Call and points out that better sleep can make people “smarter, thinner, healthier and more cheerful” in addition to “better skin, better memories, better judgment, livelier libidos and, oh, yes, longer lives.”

“When you lose even one hour of sleep for any reason, it impacts your performance the next day,” says Dr. Alon Avidan, director of the UCL Sleep Disorders Center.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology “Manipulating Sleep Duration Alters Emotional Functioning and Cognitive Performance in Children” last year found the same to be true even for children. When kids ages 8 to 12 slept for just one hour less for four nights, they didn’t function as well — either cognitively or emotionally — during the day.

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“We see napping or sleeping as lazy,” says Jennifer Vriend, a clinical psychologist in Ottawa, Canada, and lead author of the study with children. “We put so much emphasis on diet, nutrition, exercise. Sleep is in the back seat.”

In cases where the sleep deficit goes for several days, Avidan advises minding the general p’s and q’s for catching zzz’s: avoid caffeine after noon; avoid alcohol and technology (TV, computer, texting, etc.) too close to bedtime.

“Sleep is not like a bank account,” states Avidan. “For one hour of sleep loss, you need 24 hours to recover.”

World Sleep Day is organized by the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM), an international association whose mission is to advance sleep health worldwide. For practical steps to start your journey toward quality sleep, check out WASM’s 10 Commandments of Sleep found at www.worldsleepday.org.

This year, WASM is emphasizing the preventable risk factors that lead to obstructive sleep apnea with the slogan “Restful Sleep, Easy Breathing, Healthy Body.”

Source: LA Times/WASM

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