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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

October 2023

Global call to action on sleep health published in The Lancet Public Health

The science of sleep can be leveraged to improve overall health, say international experts, including NIEHS scientist Chandra Jackson, Ph.D.

(Editor’s note: The following article is based on a Sept. 29 press release by World Sleep Society.)

A global call to action was published in The Lancet Public Health Sept. 28 to recognize sleep health as a foundation of human health. Decades of research across disciplines make this fact abundantly clear, and now is the time to begin leveraging sleep health to improve human health and wellbeing worldwide.

Authored by an international group of experts — including NIEHS scientist Chandra Jackson, Ph.D. — on behalf of World Sleep Society (WSS), this viewpoint, titled “The Urgent Need for All Countries to Promote Sleep Health,” specifies three actions for governments at all levels, researchers, and other stakeholders:

  • Educate: promote sleep and circadian health education and awareness
  • Research: collect and centralize standard sleep and circadian data in every country
  • Implement public health policies: include sleep health initiatives to advance public health agendas

Read the full commentary.

Improve sleep to improve overall health

Like nutrition and physical activity, sleep health is a uniquely powerful target for interventions that improve overall health, yet most countries do not include sleep health in their public health agendas.

“There is strong evidence that sleep is essential for physical and mental health, as well as well-being, across the entire lifespan. Disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms significantly increases the risk for dementia, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Now is the time to integrate sleep and circadian health programs to promote the health span worldwide. No public health agenda is sufficient without the inclusion of sleep,” says Phyllis C. Zee, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the WSS Global Sleep Health Task Force and president of World Sleep Society.

The costs of inaction

Chandra Jackson, Ph.D.
At NIEHS, Jackson leads the Social and Environmental Determinants of Health Equity Group. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

The costs of inaction are clear: avoidable burdens on health systems and continued exacerbation of global health inequities.

“Our viewpoint describes in brief the wide-ranging consequences of poor sleep health for individuals, communities, and governments worldwide. We are already bearing these burdens. We need action in these three areas — awareness, research, and public policy — to lighten those burdens and improve lives,” says Diane C. Lim, M.D., and Arezu Najafi, M.D., lead co-authors of the article.

Standardize data collection

For its own part, the international research community must standardize data collection on global sleep health.

,P>“Researchers across many disciplines, such as occupational health and urban planning, who are interested in leveraging the science of sleep and circadian health to ultimately improve population health both locally and internationally must work together to collect — in a standardized fashion — the multi-dimensional sleep and circadian data that decision-makers need,” says Jackson, an NIEHS senior investigator who is co-senior author of the viewpoint with Dr. Zee.

Further information is available at the World Sleep Society webpage. Follow World Sleep Society for updates and opportunities for organized collaboration.

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