April 23, 2017
NATIONAL SLEEP AWARENESS WEEK is an annual event coordinated by the National Sleep Foundation, an organization that seeks to improve public health and wellness through education about sleep and sleep disorders.
In the past, the week was timed to coincide with Daylight Saving Time, which causes many people to lose an hour of sleep. However, due to some new initiatives planned for the near future, the National Sleep Foundation moved the date to April. This year, it’s being celebrated April 23rd through 29th. This year’s theme is “Sleep Better, Feel Better,” highlighting the many connections between sleep and physical health.
The National Sleep Foundation hopes to bring awareness to what the CDC is now calling a “public health problem”: insufficient sleep.
People are often flippant about not getting enough sleep, stating variations of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” While it might seem that a little sleep deprivation is no big deal, inadequate sleep has been linked to a staggering array of physical and mental health problems.
In addition to being implicated in diseases like Type II diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, sleep deprivation can cause car and occupational accidents. More than seven percent of people ages 25 to 35 polled by the CDC admitted to having nodded off behind the wheel within the last month. National events, like Sleep Awareness Week, use social and traditional media to generate conversations about sleep, including why it’s important and thepotential dangerous consequences of not getting enough of it.
Each year, Sleep Awareness Week centers on a different theme, focusing on a specific aspect of the relationship between sleep and overall wellness. The National Sleep Foundation also conducts a poll based on the theme, releasing the results at the end of the week. Poll results available online date back to 2002’s “Adult Sleep Habits.” Previous years have examined topics like:
The theme of 2014, “Sleep in the Modern Family,” examined electronic use (computers, TVs, smartphones) and its effect on sleep, especially in children.
Among the findings was the fact that more than half (56 percent) of kids ages 15 to 17 get less than seven hours of sleep on the average school night; the NSF recommends eight to 10 hours of sleep for this age group. These studies are helping researchers understand more about the connections between sleep and cognitive function, shaping guidelines and recommendations for the future.
During National Sleep Awareness Week, we encourage you to get involved and help spread the word about the value of quality sleep. Talk to your friends and family about whether they get enough sleep, poll your social media contacts, and share sleep statistics like the National Sleep Foundation’s 25 Random Facts About Sleep. Here are some other fun ways to celebrate Sleep Awareness Week: