A long night’s sleep may not be the favored topic of conversation in a city that makes bank keeping people up all night to dance, drink, gamble and watch shows, but two sleep-focused organizations are doing their darndest this month to get people around the world, including Las Vegans, to pay attention to the importance of good sleep.
On March 7, the National Sleep Foundation released the results of its 2011 Sleep in America Poll suggesting, among other things, that more than 40 percent of Americans don’t get enough sleep, and that using electronics such as computers and smart phones in bed may be to blame.
The foundation dubbed March 7-13 National Sleep Awareness Week, timing it, pointedly, to coincide with Daylight Savings Time. The foundation also is holding its Sleep Health & Safety conference March 17-18 at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. There, health care and public safety professionals will present research on topics such as the latest insomnia cures and effects of fatigue on society. You can follow the conference’s Tweets here.
Meanwhile, the more international crowd at the World Association for Sleep Medicine have named March 18 World Sleep Day. The event this year is focused on promoting healthy sleep among children.
“In children, the effects of bad sleep may become permanent and alter both physical and mental growth,” says Antonio Culebras, co-chair of World Sleep Day and a professor of neurology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., in a video on the event’s Web site.
The association partnered with Philips Electronics to create SimplyHealthy@Schools, a module that educators can use to teach kids the importance of good sleep. They encapsulated this in 10 Commandments of Healthy Sleep for Children, including a few pieces of advice that may surprise some parents:
- Make sure your child gets enough sleep by setting an age-appropriate bedtime and wake time.
- Set consistent bedtime and wake-up times on both weekdays and weekends.
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine and recommend wearing comfortable clothes in bed, including strong absorbing diapers for infants.
- Encourage your child to fall asleep independently.
- Avoid bright light at bedtime and during the night and increase light exposure in the morning.
- Keep all electronics, including televisions, computers and cell phones, out of the bedroom and limit use of electronics before bedtime.
- Maintain a regular daily schedule, including consistent mealtimes.
- Have an age-appropriate nap schedule.
- Ensure plenty of exercise and time spent outdoors during the day.
- Eliminate foods and beverages containing caffeine.
Prying your kid’s laptop out of his hands at 8:30 p.m. every night might be challenging, but it could be worth the battle. The association estimates that one-quarter of children in the world suffer from poor sleep, which can cause obesity, accidental injury, problems with memory, attention and learning, and emotional issues ranging from moodiness to aggression.