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World Sleep Day: Better Sleep Means Better Health and Better Life

World Sleep Day: Better Sleep Means Better Health and Better Life

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  • World Sleep Day is celebrated on 13th March 2020
  • Creates awareness about the importance of sleep for maintaining optimal health
  • Also warns the public about the dangers of not getting enough sleep
  • Aims to reduce the global burden of sleep-related disorders

World Sleep Day (WSD) is observed on the Friday before the Spring Vernal Equinox every year. This year, it is being held on Friday, 13th March 2020. It aims to raise awareness about the importance of sleep, which is often deprived in the fast-paced life of modern-day society. It also calls to action on important issues pertaining to sleep, encompassing the areas of Medicine, Education, and Society, among many others.


World Sleep Day is organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society, which is based in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. The World Sleep Society consists of individual members and societies from more than 76 countries around the world.

Objective and Theme of World Sleep Day 2020

The major objective of the 2020 World Sleep Day is to reduce the burden of sleep-related problems in society through better prevention and treatment of sleep disorders. The theme for this year's World Sleep Day is 'Better Sleep, Better Life, Better Planet'

History of World Sleep Day

World Sleep Day was initiated by a dedicated group of like-minded health experts from around the globe, specializing in sleep medicine and sleep research. The first World Sleep Day was celebrated on 14th March, 2008 with the theme 'Sleep Well, Live Fully Awake'. The primary goal of the first World Sleep Day was to bring together world-renowned sleep experts to discuss, deliberate, and disseminate sleep-related information from their respective countries among the global health community. The co-chairs of the first World Sleep Day were Dr. Liborio Parrino from the University of Parma, Italy and Professor Antonio Culebras from Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, USA.

Essential Aspects of Sleep that Everyone Should Know

Sleep is a basic human need, similar to eating and drinking, and is essential for overall health and wellbeing. Over one-third of the lifetime of humans is spent sleeping. Sleep restriction or poor quality sleep negatively impacts the body, both in the long-term as well as in the short-term.

Short-term effects include a reduction in attention span, memory recall, and learning ability. Long-term effects include the development of diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer. It also significantly weakens the immune system, thereby increasing the chances of acquiring infectious diseases.

Lack of sleep can also lead to various types of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Moreover, disruption of sleep from conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)can have negative effects on daily activities, family life, relationships, work performance, and social interaction.

Therefore, good quality sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy life. In this regard, the three elements of good quality sleep that should be kept in mind include the following:
  • Depth: Sleep should be deep enough to be restorative
  • Duration: The length of sleep should be optimal - not too long, not too short
  • Continuity: Sleep should be sound and without any breaks/fragmentation

Sleep: Facts & Figures

Ways to Increase Sleep Awareness on World Sleep Day

There are many ways to increase sleep awareness, some of which are highlighted below:
  • Disseminating Knowledge: Educating the general public about the importance of sleep and associated sleep disorders through widespread knowledge dissemination will go a long way towards awareness generation
  • Offering Free Consultations: Free medical consultations can be provided by sleep clinics to advise patients having sleep disorders about medications and other aspects related to sleep
  • Posting on Social Media: Information about sleep can be posted on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, using the hashtag #WorldSleepDay. This will ignite interest among the members of these social media platforms
  • Spreading the Message by Word-of-Mouth: Talking to people can create a better impact than most other means of communication as it involves direct human interaction. Explaining the importance of a good night's sleep among friends, family, and colleagues can make a lasting impression
  • Writing Newspaper Articles: Writing feature articles, editorials, op-eds, and other informative news items will highlight the importance of sleep and generate interest among the masses
  • Delivering Popular Talks: Public lectures by eminent sleep experts is an effective way of enlightening the general public about the crucial role played by sleep in maintaining overall health
  • Participating in an Event: Joining an event organized on the occasion of World Sleep Day would make people cognizant about sleep problems and how to manage them through behavioral and lifestyle changes
  • Encouraging Fundraising Activities: Fundraising through sponsorship of sporting events or sale of merchandise related to World Sleep Day, among other activities will not only raise awareness, but also generate money for the care of patients suffering from sleep disorders

Sleep Research: Latest Findings

Sleep research will help to gain a better understanding of sleep disorders and how to go about developing effective treatments to reduce the global burden of these disorders. Some of the latest findings arising from sleep research are highlighted below:
  • Multiple nights of sleep restriction leads to a reduction in working memory, sustained attention and speed of processing thoughts
  • 6 hours of sleep for 2 weeks or total sleep deprivation for 2 nights may produce the same degree of attention deficiency
  • In simulated real-world scenarios, experimentally induced sleep deprivation increases risk-taking behavior
  • Quality of sleep is more important than the quantity of sleep for having a better quality of life and daytime functioning
  • A study conducted in 409 medical schools in 12 countries revealed that the average time spent on sleep education was only 2.5 hours
  • Population-based studies involving 500,000 adults and 28,000 children have revealed that short sleep duration is a modifiable risk factor for obesity
  • Individuals getting better quality sleep are perceived to be more:
    • Attractive
    • Alert
    • Active
    • Youthful
  • Just 1 night of poor-quality sleep negatively impacts:
    • Attention span
    • Memory recall
    • Learning ability
  • Routine sleep without interruption leads to lower rates of:

Health Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Some useful tips for better night-time sleep are given below:
  • Establish a regular bedtime and waking time
  • Regulate your alcohol intake
  • Avoid caffeine at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
  • Watch your workout routine
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and conducive to sleep
  • Regulate the room temperature and humidity to encourage sleep
  • Cut out the noise and dim the lights to induce sleep
  • Keep electronic devices and gadgets away from your bedside
On this World Sleep Day, let us make a good decision to catch some extra Zzz's in order to live a happy, healthy and disease-free life.

References :
  1. World Sleep Day is March 13, 2020 - (https://worldsleepday.org/)
  2. Sleep Research - (https://worldsleepday.org/sleep-research)
  3. Toolkit for World Sleep Day - (https://worldsleepday.org/toolkit)
  4. World Sleep Day - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Sleep_Day)

Source: Medindia

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