The National Sleep Foundation celebrates its annual National Sleep Awareness Week March 8-14. National Sleep Awareness Week brings awareness to the importance of sleep and the health impacts that come with it. The overall goal is to enlighten and encourage people to make sleep a priority.
Many events and activities take attention away from sleep. Many college students choose to save loads of homework for last minute or study late at night — and next thing they know, it is way past midnight and still no sleep has been obtained. Sleep is often pushed back on the list of daily priorities. However, many health issues can originate from a lack of a good night’s rest.
The National Sleep Foundation utilizes this week to discuss various sleep topics and disorders that may be unknown or have been forgotten. This includes excessive sleepiness, insomnia or non-24 hour sleep-wake disorder, which affects a person’s circadian rhythm. Simple factors, even one’s mood, can affect the amount of sleep they get and cause some serious disorders and issues. Poor sleep habits and being overly tired can cause long lasting health problems that not only put your own life in danger, but others as well, especially when it comes to driving. Reduced sleep ties greatly to cardiovascular problems and weight gain, so if sleep is not prioritized and a medical professional isn’t notified, the health risks will only continue to rise.
There are many sleep disorders that the National Sleep Foundation recognizes including disorders like narcolepsy. According to SleepFoundation.org, narcolepsy affects every 1 in 2,000-3,000 people. With narcolepsy, there is a loss of hypocretin cells in the brain, which are cells that help to regulate one’s awakeness. It is an underlying condition that can cause someone to collapse (due to a loss of muscle control) without a prior warning. Disorders like this need to be brought to the public’s attention because they can go undiagnosed for many years.
The National Sleep Foundation has it’s annual National Sleep Awareness Week every year so that these conditions can be recognized and possible solutions can be provided in case someone is struggling with their health due to their sleep schedule. Advice and tips are also given to help with sleep disorders that may not have a true cure, such as narcolepsy. The foundation also focuses on bringing attention to tips that teens can use to limit unnecessary factors, such as their screen time (phone, laptop, etc).
National Sleep Awareness Week enhances the public’s understanding of the importance of sleep and enlightens them on steps that can be taken to make sleep a priority. It’s very easy to take advantage of sleep and its importance, but taking advantage of sleep will only increase the chance of health disadvantages. Sleep should never be overlooked as it leads to a healthy daily lifestyle full of life and energy, and that is what the National Sleep Foundation hopes the public comes to learn and understand.
Photo: M. Henry