World Sleep Day 2024 Advocates Sleep Equity for Global Health

Sleep Equity for Global Health is this year’s motto on World Sleep Day.

Symbolbild Schlafen; Credit: Pixabay
Symbolbild Schlafen; Credit: Pixabay

The World Sleep Society launched an international initiative to take place annually on March 15. A panel discussion on March 18 at the Kepler Salon will feature sleep experts at the Johannes Kepler University Linz and the Kepler University Hospital focusing on just how sleep is also political.

We spend about a good third of our lives sleeping. In terms of global health, everyone should be able to enjoy a good night's sleep, regardless of where they live, their socio-economic status, the environmental conditions, social structures, interpersonal relationships, or individual beliefs.

A Basic Human Need
In addition to food, liquids and physical activity, sleep is one of our most basic human needs. Alongside its restorative role which serves to recycle old cells and replenish our energy levels, sleep plays an important role in bolstering memory and learning. Sleep boosts the immune system and supports healthy brain function by eliminating toxins.

Poor sleep, on the other hand, is linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality, drowsy drivers are a safety hazard, and those who suffer from sleep disorders are at higher risk of suffering from mental illness.

Sleep expert Anna Heidbreder (Department of Neurology) remarked: "Sleep is essential in order to stay healthy and on this day in particular, we would like to draw attention to just how important healthy sleep is and more sleep equity. Our 24/7, on-demand society means being constantly available and being able to function at all times; we are gradually losing quality sleep time."

Sound Sleep has Many Layers
A good night’s sleep involves more than just spending enough time sleeping; the quality of sleep, consistency, and ideal timing also impact how we feel during the day and how healthy we are. Sleep deficiency can result in feeling drowsy during the day and experiencing difficulty concentrating and paying attention.

Thomas Mitterling (the Medical Sleep Team) adds: "When it comes to healthy sleep, we need to address the various disparities if we want to improve sleep health on a global level."

Social factors (such as psychological stress, financial pressure, hunger, feeling unsafe), and environmental factors (such as lighting, temperature, noise, air quality) can trigger various disparities.
Andreas Kaindlstorfer, head of the Sleep Laboratory at the Department of Neurology, explains: "We are often unable to influence the reasons for these disparities so we need to focus more on trying to prevent them by consciously changing our environment, something all of us can do."

The Department of Neurology provides both inpatient and outpatient care to those suffering from sleep disorders across the entire spectrum. Research in the field of pathophysiology focuses on daytime drowsiness, the relationship between sleep and neurodegeneration, as well as new methods to analyze the quality of sleep.

On March 18, 2024, a panel discussion at the Kepler Salon titled "Warum Schlaf politisch ist" will focus on sleep equity.

Click here to learn more about the discussion.