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Sleep Sci. 2018 Mar-Apr;11(2):56-64. doi: 10.5935/1984-0063.20180013.

Insufficient Sleep Syndrome: Is it time to classify it as a major noncommunicable disease?

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Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago.
President, Academy of Family Physicians of India, New Delhi, India.
Research Consultant, Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON M6K 2B4, Canada.
University Sleep Disorders Center, College of Medicine and National Plan for Science and Technology, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Somnogen Canada Inc., College Street, Toronto, ON, M6H 1C5, Canada.


Over the last three to four decades, it has been observed that the average total number of hours of sleep obtained per night by normal individuals have decreased. Concomitantly, global figures indicate that insufficient sleep is associated with serious adverse health and social outcomes. Moreover, insufficient sleep has been linked to seven of the fifteen leading causes of death. Additionally, current evidence suggests that sleep plays a significant role in determining cognitive performance and workplace productivity. There is a great need for a systematic analysis of the economic impact of insufficient sleep, particularly given current evidence that this phenomenon, as well as the poor sleep hygiene practices which produce it, is increasing worldwide. This paper takes the view that health authorities around the world need to raise the general awareness of benefits of sleep. There is considerable scope for research into both the public health impact as well as the macroeconomic consequences of insufficient sleep syndrome (ISS). Additionally, various models which estimate the undiagnosed burden of ISS on the GDP (gross domestic product) are needed to prioritize health issues and to highlight the national policies that are necessary to combat this medical problem. Sleep insufficiency has been declared to be a 'public health epidemic'; therefore, we propose ISS as a potential noncommunicable disease. This review elaborates on this topic further, exploring the causes and consequences of insufficient sleep, and thus providing a perspective on the policies that are needed as well as the research that will be required to support and justify these policies.


Epidemics; Morbidity; Mortality; Public Health; Sleep Deprivation

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