On a rainy day in March 2020, I attended the launch of the Sleep Manifesto. The venue was on the Terrace Pavilion overlooking the Thames in the historic and stunning Houses of Parliament. About 100 interested people came to the launch of this manifesto, which was a collaboration between the Sleep Charity and the Sleep Council.
The launch was supported by Clive Betts (MP for Sheffield South) and the speakers included Dr Michael Farquhar and Professor Heather Elphick, both of whom are paediatricians who specialise in Sleep Medicine. As professionals who see children with sleeping issues, they have an in-depth knowledge of the impact of the problem on the child’s general behaviour, cognition, ability to study at school and of course the emotional and physical cost to the parents and entire family. They both reported that successful outcomes were possible with the right treatment accessible from their clinical areas.
The Chief Executive from the Mental Health Foundation spoke about the impact and interrelationship between sleep and mental health for people of all ages.
Dr Neil Bindemann spoke about the cost of sleep issues to society as a whole. Today, we live in a ‘24 hour 7 days a week’ society where answering work emails wherever and whenever is seen as the norm, disregarding the importance of time for rest and relaxation. Others who work in supportive roles such as cleaners are often low paid workers who experience persistent sleep deprivation. it was acknowledged that sometimes the shift patterns are chosen to fit in with family life resulting in constant juggling of childcare and snatching a few hours’ sleep before the next shift.
Sleep and rest enhance the ability to be creative, in that sleep enables the brain to process the day’s events thus, enabling a strengthening of connections between neurones. it is known that there is an association between sleep and dementia where sleep facilitates the clearing of a waste product called β-amyloids form the cerebrospinal fluid, and without this clearance, β-amyloids form amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease which hinder communication between neurones.
Obesity is of global concern and an interesting connection was also made between obesity and sleep deprivation, in that someone who is sleep deprived often makes unhealthy food choices and this may be further compounded by low incomes.
By launching the “Wake Up Call” sleep manifesto, the Sleep Council and the Sleep Charity have called on the government to include sleep within its Change4Life public health initiative and to promote sleep as being as important to good health as diet and exercise.
Finally, these two charities would like interested parties to sign up to their charter for sleep equality