Public Health Goals for Sleep Health - Please provide feedback and suggestions


Public Health Goals for Sleep

Public health goals for sleep include the following:

  1. Sleep becomes established as a consideration for public health programs. All federal, state and local programs are evaluated for assessment of their relation to improved sleep hygiene, sleep disorders and related considerations.
  2. Medical education and healthcare training provide a fundamental understanding of sleep and its contributions to health, performance and quality of life. All healthcare professions learn to assess for sleep restriction and sleep disorders and to actively intervene to prevent or treat them, including by effective referral.
  3. All citizens are educated about sleep and sleep disorders through the high school level and regularly offer information about these and related topics such as the prevention of drowsy driving.
  4. Major institutions including schools and the workplace schedule their functions in accordance with principles of sleep health as much as principles of public health govern their practices in regard to waste disposal or other public or environmental health functions.
  5. Healthcare insurers and providers support programs and clinical practices that encourage good sleep health and assess for sleep restriction and sleep disorders.
  6. Sleep research is supported with training programs sufficient to establish a meaningful cadre of investigators and sleep research is integrated throughout bio-medical science.
  7. Major public health surveillance surveys and data collection efforts include sleep questions as a component.

My impression is that health care providers do not take it as serious as other health condition.

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@toni - Part of the reason for this is that in the scope and history of all medical sciences, sleep medicine is a rather young discipline. It was not even covered in medical school curriculum until recent years. That being said, some physicians may not have been in the later student group. But make no mistake-- the consequences of untreated sleep disorders are significant!

If anyone ever feels uncomfortable about their physician not taking sleep disorders seriously, patients can make their doctor’s visits armed with written (printed out) material provided by The American Sleep Apnea Association (AASA) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) These are both excellent and credible resources to show your doctor regarding the perils of untreated sleep disorders.

I wish you good luck in being proactive if you do have a sleep disorder!

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Toni, I would mosty agree with you. Part of the reason is that there are not many grants or resources for state, county and local public health to spread sleep awareness or do screening. It is changing some. The CDC is doing what it can and has a great research program looking at sleep nationwide. Sleep has it’s own area in Healthy People 2020, the nation’s health agenda and is getting more recognition. However, many people still do not have a great understanding of how complex sleep actually is and how much it is related to total health, disease prevention and recovery.


Is this really the order in which you would address all these issues? I’m horrified that health insurance companies and their involvement is so low on this list. They should be near the top. Alas, this is no surprise. They would rather wait until people are extremely sick before they do anything to help restore their health instead of encouraging them to seek medical attention before sleep issues get out of control.

Public health officials, doctors, and health insurance companies are equally responsible for safety and welfare of all people within their communities. Together, they have the means to provide public awareness materials about sleep disorders community citizens can use: webinars, TV and newspaper advertising, social media, wellness programs offered through hospitals and clinics, school and church programs, and professional development programs provided by businesses for their employees.

Another program that might be able to help spread the word about sleep disorders is Take Control of Your Health, a self-help wellness program for people with chronic health issues that was developed an implemented nationally by Stanford University. Using a script, volunteer peer leaders who have learned to cope with chronic illness previously facilitate six-week courses in their communities following a four-week training session. Courses are designed in such a way that participants are encouraged to come up with ways they can improve their condition on their own or with help from friends and family. I was involved with the program myself for a while but got away from it for reasons beyond my control. Anyway, this program is sorely lacking where any discussion about sleep disorders is concerned. Medical professionals and advocates should encourage Take Control of Your Health developers to include class material about them as a means of increasing participants’ knowledge about the importance of sleep and how lack of sufficient sleep can affect their overall health.