The American Thoracic Society (ATS) provided a review of the current scientific literature to assist health care providers, especially pulmonologists and sleep physicians, in making recommendations to patients and the general public about the importance of achieving good quality and adequate quantity of sleep.
ATS members were invited, based on their expertise in sleep medicine, and their conclusions were based on both empirical evidence identified after comprehensive literature review and clinical experience.
The ATS focused on sleep health in both children and adults, including the impact of occupation on sleep, the public health implications of drowsy driving, and the common sleep disorders of obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia.
Good quality and quantity of sleep are essential for good health and overall quality of life; therefore a strong recommendation was made for the implementation of public education programs on the importance of sleep health.
Two recommendations that we at Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America strongly agree with is that:
- Patients with unexplained sleepiness should have a sleep study performed
- Home sleep testing is appropriate for patients without comorbid disease
The other major conclusions were:
- Good quality sleep is critical for good health and overall quality of life.
- The amount of sleep needed by an individual varies significantly with age across the lifespan.
- Children are not merely smaller adults with regard to sleep and differ importantly from adults, thereby requiring specific attention to sleep maturational processes.
- Disparities exist in sleep health related in part to modifiable factors for adequate sleep quality and quantity.
- Short sleep duration (6 hours or less per 24 hour period) is associated with adverse outcomes including mortality.
- The optimal sleep duration for adults for good health at a population level is 7-9 hours, although individual variability exists.
- Drowsy driving is an important cause of fatal and non-fatal motor vehicle crashes.
- Occupational demands are a frequent cause of insufficient sleep and can contribute to accident risk in the workplace. We recommend better education for the general public and health care providers regarding the impact of working hours and shift work on sleep duration and quality and the association of sleepiness with workplace injuries.
- Sleep disorders are common, cause significant morbidity and have substantial economic impact, but are treatable.
- Many individuals with sleep disorders remain undiagnosed and untreated. It is estimated that up to 22 million Americans have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), of those 80% remain undiagnosed.
- Better education of professional transportation operators regarding OSA, other sleep disorders and medications that may interfere with alertness.
- Currently health care providers receive very little formal education on the importance of sleep to health or on the evaluation and management of common sleep disorders.
Key recommendations included where:
- It was recommend that health care providers receive a greater level of education on sleep hygiene and encourage patients to maximize their sleep time.
- It was recommend that public education programs be developed to emphasize the importance of sleep for good health.
- It was recommend better education/awareness for the general public and physicians regarding the importance of early identification of high-risk OSA groups (in children and adults) due to the profound public health implications of untreated OSA.
- It was recommend better education of physicians as to the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia rather than immediate implementation of hypnotics and sedatives, and recommend structural changes to increase access to this treatment, including training of a wider range of health care providers and insurance coverage.
- It was recommend that all drivers (occupational and non-occupational) receive education about how to recognize the symptoms and consequences of drowsiness.
“The recommendations are based on a comprehensive review of the literature and the experience of a panel of clinicians and scientists with expertise in sleep health,” said Atul Malhotra, MD, president of the American Thoracic Society and a member of the team that produced the statement. “They provide an important framework for promoting healthy sleep on a wide scale, which would in turn generate a number of additional health and other benefits.”
All of the findings were based on the importance of good sleep health. Education will be the key to solving the sleep health epidemic going in the US and around the world. We can’t stress enough the importance of speaking with your primary physician about your sleep health.
If you have any concerns about your sleep health or suspect you might have sleep apnea, been diagnosed and would like to find out how you can avoid the high risk of developing other conditions, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a consultation.