Upstate News

March 7, 2008
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

SUNY Upstate Medical University physician heralds March 14 as World Sleep Day

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Sleepiness and sleeplessness constitute a global epidemic that threatens health and quality of life, according to sleep medicine experts from around the world who have joined efforts to declare March 14 as the first World Sleep Day.

Antonio Culebras, M.D., professor of neurology at SUNY Upstate Medical University, is helping to lead this worldwide effort to create professional and public awareness of the importance of diagnosing and treating approximately 80 known sleep-related disorders. The World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) and many groups in different countries sponsor World Sleep Day.

“No one knows why sleep occurs, but we all agree that sleep is an essential and unavoidable biological function,” Culebras said. “Disorders of sleep are preventable and treatable medical conditions in every country of the world. We are setting aside this one day of the year to celebrate sleep and to raise awareness of its disorders.”

To celebrate the day, WASM is inviting the public to visit Web site to view video presentations by some of the world’s leading experts in sleep medicine, including William C. Dement, discoverer of dream activity in REM sleep who is considered the father of sleep medicine in the United States.

The Web site also serves as a “call-to-action” for the world’s sleep medicine professionals to work on the following issues related to sleep:

?encourage regional and global sleep registries;

?develop partnership alliances between government administrators, industry and the medical community.

?develop methods for recording sleep related traffic accidents;
?develop specialized sleep centers worldwide to ensure the highest chance of prevention and treatment of sleep disorders, while reducing direct costs on public health budgets and indirect costs on the economy by limiting loss of working days;

?promote lifestyle modifications and good sleep hygiene practices;

?promote education and measures to reduce sleep related driving accidents;

?support Core Sets for persons with sleep disorders based on the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health;

?encourage research worldwide in basic and clinical areas of sleep;

?and develop national policies, programs and legislation to prevent, alleviate and cure sleep disorders.

According to Culebras, one third of adults suffer insomnia, many have sleep apnea, others suffer shift work circadian dysrhythmia, innumerable people complain of restless legs and an excessive number of people overuse sleeping pills.

“Sleep should be celebrated as a pleasurable physiological activity that is restorative, refreshing and energizing,” Culebras said.

In addition to Culebras, the First World Sleep Day is co-chaired by Liborio Parrino, M.D., of the Neurology Department at Parma University, Italy.

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