APA Represented at Sleep Retreat

How often do you think about sleep? If you're like most people, you probably don't think much about it unless you develop insomnia or a sleep disorder. However, according to a group convened in January, we should all be concerned about sleep. With the creation of the National Center on Sleep Research within the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute, the American Sleep Disorders Association organized a strategic planning retreat to bring together industry, patient, professional, and research organizations concerned about sleep. APA participated, because psychology has made important strides in our knowledge about the nature of sleep and sleep disorders.

The retreat, which was held January 7-8, in Baltimore, brought together 13 organizations to facilitate information exchange and establish a common goal. Statistics are just starting to bear out the enormous toll sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are taking on society. For example, an increasing number of traffic fatalities are now attributed to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. And productivity, performance, and personal relationships are all negatively affected by inadequate or lack of quality sleep.

The participants decided on a vision statement to 'elevate sleep as a serious health priority.' Through future educational and advocacy efforts, the group intends to inform business, industry, educators, government, health care professionals, and the general public about the importance of sleep and the attention it deserves.

Attending the retreat on APA's behalf was John Harsh, PhD, University of Southern Mississippi. An experimental psychologist, Dr. Harsh has been involved with past APA efforts in the sleep arena, including his work on APA-sponsored scientific conferences and the resulting books.

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