The importance of sleep quality on World Sleep Day 2024

The significance of night-time rest and the potential issues that can arise from poor sleep are relevant to our overall health.

March 15, 2024, marks World Sleep Day, an important occasion that was first hosted in  2008 and highlights the essential features of proper rest, drawing community-wide attention to the subject.

This year’s theme, “sleep equity for global health,” underscores the influence of sleep on daily life. Despite sleep’s significant benefits, however, measurable differences in sleep health persist in populations across the world, creating additional burdens and reinforcing health inequities. Developing countries, for instance, seldom prioritize sleep health in their public health agendas; furthermore, among the WHO’s 194 member states, only 43 have collected and published data on population sleep duration.

The entire month of March 2024 will see a plethora of events related to World Sleep Day, aiming to unite professionals to share and discuss sleep information on a global scale.

Delegates from the World Sleep Society organize congresses, events and sleep health awareness campaigns within their clinics, communities, and countries. In 2023, more than 250 delegates organized over 300 events across five continents. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to endorsing best practices worldwide, recognizing that sleeping well is pivotal for a healthy lifestyle.

Good sleep is more than just waking up energized; it’s foundational to physical, mental, and social health. Our brain undergoes its primary recovery phase during sleep: sleep thus performs a primary biological function, to the point that we spend a third of our life sleeping. 

Achieving regular, undisturbed sleep, however, is not always straightforward. There are numerous potential disruptors posing risks to our psycho-physical balance.

Disturbed sleep is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, frequent nighttime awakenings, and waking up feeling tired. This can increase the risk of cardiovascular issues like heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, poor sleep can lead to overeating and difficulty shedding excess calories, potentially resulting in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. The aesthetic effects of sleep deprivation are visible too, particularly on our face, leading to less elastic and sometimes wrinkled skin. 

Luckily, there are various countermeasures to be adopted in order to improve sleep quality. Feeling rested upon waking at least five days a week is essential for a healthier life. Generally, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep, but this can vary from person to person. Moreover, sleep should ideally be continuous, as intermittent rest can degrade its quality.

To overcome sleep disturbances, it’s advisable to avoid engaging in mentally or emotionally stimulating activities before bed, such as studying, working on the computer, or video games. Electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets should be set aside at least an hour before sleep to avoid the sleep-disrupting effects of blue light.  Another useful tip is to try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up in the morning at regular times. Lastly, it’s best to avoid heavy meals before going to bed, as well as foods rich in caffeine, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks.

World Sleep Day and ongoing advice from the World Health Organization highlight a simple, yet crucial truth: sleep quality is essential to stay healthy and live longer.