National Sleep Awareness Week is March 2-9, an annual campaign to raise awareness about sleep’s importance to health and well-being. The week culminates in the “Spring Forward” time change, when most Americans lose an hour of sleep to accommodate Daylight Savings Time. In the two weeks immediately following the overnight time change, auto accidents may increase by as much as 11%, and there are also increases in heart attack and suicide rates.
“What the ‘Spring Forward’ time change teaches us is that sleep is not expendable,” says Pam Ryan, manager of Christie Clinic’s sleep laboratory. “When you lose even one hour of sleep, it puts you at risk. People don’t understand that. They are busy, and they want more time. They figure if they sleep less, they’ll gain that extra time. That’s a big mistake. When you skimp on sleep, there are consequences.”
Even for the one-third of Americans who don’t habitually restrict their sleep time, sleep disorders may degrade sleep quality and increase health risks just the same. “Quality is just as important as quantity,” says Ryan. “In the sleep lab, we see people every night who think they are sleeping well, when in fact their sleep is constantly disrupted.” The culprit is often obstructive sleep apnea, where tissues collapse in the back of the throat during sleep, making it difficult to breathe as deeply as usual.
For National Sleep Awareness Week, Christie Clinic has developed educational activities that emphasize the importance of both sleep quantity and sleep quality. The public can get engaged by taking a short, fun quiz, which is available on Christie Clinic’s Facebook page. When the quiz is completed, they can also register to win a prize that will be given to a randomly-selected participant. “We hope that Sleep Awareness Week will trigger people to evaluate their own sleep habits,” Ryan says. Sleep is essential to health. It’s time for everyone to stop underestimating its importance.”
Click here for more information about Christie Clinic’s Sleep Center.