Today, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies released a report on the status of academic sleep research and sleep medicine in the United States. The report includes recommendations to improve public awareness and strengthen the field of sleep medicine. The project was initiated and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Sleep Research Society, and the National Sleep Foundation.
“Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem” represents the culmination of 18 months of work conducted by a 14-member multidisciplinary ad hoc Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research appointed by the IOM.
Because of the inherently cross-cutting nature of sleep medicine, several Institutes and Centers at NIH support related research, training, and education activities. These activities are coordinated by the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) and the Trans-NIH Sleep Research Coordinating Committee with input from the Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board (SDRAB). The SDRAB includes academic researchers, private citizens, and non-voting representatives from Federal agencies. The IOM report will inform the SDRAB and the NCSDR as they advise NIH on sleep research, education, and training needs.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) commends the IOM committee for its in-depth review of the public health significance of sleep loss and sleep disorders, and its analysis of national research and clinical resources to meet current and future needs. The NCSDR, which NHLBI administers, will give the IOM committee’s recommendations careful consideration as it coordinates and integrates sleep research and training efforts at the NIH.
Since the U.S. Congress mandated the establishment of the NCSDR in 1993, sleep research and training programs have contributed significantly to improving our understanding of sleep. For example, recent findings indicate that the chronic lack of sleep and untreated sleep disorders may be factors in the development of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Sleep also plays a role in our ability to learn and perform at our best. In short, sleep loss and untreated sleep disorders have a substantial impact on public health and safety.