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American Thoracic Society Policy Recommendation Gives More Attention to Sleep

June 18, 2015

The prestigious American Thoracic Society released a new policy statement with recommendations for clinicians and the general public on achieving good quality sleep.

This statement is aimed with an an eye towards improving public health and wellness, since sleep is often associated among healthcare professionals as the third pillar of health. It's important that another organization address the importance of good quality sleep in adults and children, including the important safety issue of drowsy driving along with the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

The full statement is available using this link

Some of the main conclusions and recommendations are as follows:

  • Quality sleep is vital for good health and overall well being
  • Children (and this is becoming more important due to new awareness) are not merely smaller adults with regard to sleep and differ importantly from adults, thereby requiring specific attention to sleep maturational processes.
  • Short sleep duration (6 hours or less per 24 hour period) is associated with adverse outcomes including mortality.
  • Long sleep duration (>9-10 hours per 24 hour period) may also be associated with adverse health outcomes.
  • 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. It is recommended all drivers (occupational and non-occupational) receive education about how to recognize the symptoms and consequences of drowsiness. The ATA recommend better education of professional transportation operators regarding obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), other sleep disorders and medications that may interfere with alertness.
  • Sleep disorders are common, cause significant morbidity and have substantial economic impact, but are treatable.
  • Many individuals with sleep disorders remain undiagnosed and untreated.
  • 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.
  • For children, we suggest that age-based recommendations for sleep duration be developed. These should enable the child to awaken spontaneously at the desired time through implementation of regular wake and sleep schedules.
  • We recommend that health care providers receive a greater level of education on sleep hygiene and encourage patients to maximize their sleep time.
  • We recommend that public education programs be developed to emphasize the importance of sleep for good health.
  • We 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.
  • We 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.

Source: American Thoracic Society

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