Episode 50


Sleep Health

“Sleep health is a multidimensional pattern of sleep-wakefulness, adapted to individual, social, and environmental demands, that promotes physical and mental well-being. Good sleep health is characterized by subjective satisfaction, appropriate timing, adequate duration, high efficiency, and sustained alertness during waking hours.”

Dan Buysee wrote those words for an article published in the journal Sleep in 2014. In this episode, I explore what we mean by the term "Sleep Health," examining the components of this pillar of overall health and wellness. 

There is no one clear cut definition that everyone adheres to when using the term "Sleep Health." There are varying working definitions in the scientific community, clinical sleep medicine community, and common understanding. 

But a reasonable definition of sleep health includes several core components: These include duration, timing, regularity, sleep disorders, and quality of sleep, and often something about how the yin effects the yang - about wakefulness - the quality of wakefulness or the degree of sleepiness during intended wake hours of the day. 

We know that insufficient sleep duration is problematic for growth and development, and for functioning of children and adults alike.

We know that timing of sleep, especially later timing - delayed sleep and delayed wake - are associated with poor outcomes.

We know that there are problems associated with irregular sleep - such as social jet lag where one keeps a different sleep/wake schedule on weekdays from weekends, or a chaotic and unpredictable irregular sleep/wake schedule.

We know that sleep disorders of all kinds, most importantly sleep disordered breathing, but also insomnia and restless legs carry with them significant risks for life and limb.

And we know that quality of sleep, including how efficiently we sleep given our time in bed, the architecture or the proportion of different sleep stages, the number of microarousals, and other newer metrics of the brain’s sleep significantly predict function and dysfunction.

And your satisfaction with sleep, how rested you feel, how fatigued or sleepy you feel, and what else is going on with your health - all those comorbidities for which your sleep holds some responsibility - that too is important in grading one’s sleep health. 

And I hope as you work your way through these brief episodes and hear more about these various aspects of sleep and sleep health that you’ll come to value the role that your own sleep health plays in how you live your life.


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