This annual event celebrates Sleep Health and is intended to encourage the public to prioritize sleep to help us, as individuals, to protect our overall health and well-being.
With sleep as an integral part of healthy living, sleep “awareness” is a key component of Sleep Awareness Week. The word “Awareness” is defined as the knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists. It also means ‘mindfulness’. We have all been brought up being taught to be aware of dangers and unsafe situations. Parental advice such as “look both ways before you cross the street”, “brush your teeth twice a day”, or “eat your vegetables daily” all are important safeguards that we all have heard multiple times while growing up.
But how many of us were brought up to hear how important sleep is? Often as a child, we were told to go to sleep and would view it as “Darn! Why do we have to go to bed now?” Seeing this statement as a parental and somewhat punitive message.
The truth is that without sufficient sleep, our bodies manufacture way less cytokine which is a type of protein that targets and fights infection. And while sleep will not prevent you from getting sick, skimping on sleep could adversely affect your immune system leaving you susceptible to possible illnesses.
When left untreated, sleep related disorders have significant adverse consequences. According to current research studies, sleep apnea increases heart attacks by 30% and raises the risk of dying prematurely by 46%. Scary? Yes! But how do we change the behaviors we have towards sleep? New research that studies what gets people to change their behavior shows that warnings (fears) have little impact on why we are resistant to changing our behavior.
The average adult in the USA feels tired 3 out of 7 days. Why? In 2011, the Sleep in America poll was conducted by the National Sleep Foundation and the results showed that 60% of respondents reported experiencing sleep related problems every night or almost every night. If you are struggling with sleep disorders and issues related to sleeping, here are two sites with helpful resources: SleepHealthJournal.org and Sleepfoundation.org.
Make sure you subscribe to stay up-to-date with our blogs during #SleepAwarenessWeek. We’ll have a new one out every day!