Economic Pressures and Obstructive Sleep Apnea Impact Sleep Globally
A few months ago, Royal Philips, a Dutch diversified technology company known for its healthcare reports, released the “Sleep: A Global Perspective” report. This report is the first in a series of studies about the sleeping trends and habits taken from a survey of nearly 8,000 people across 10 different countries.
The report revealed three key factors affecting sleep: worrying about work, finances, and the economy. Sleep is a fundamental human process, and is recognized globally as essential to health and well-being, yet most people do not take the necessary steps to improve it.
“Over the past few years, many surveys have focused on the negative impact that technology and mobile devices can have on sleep, but our report confirmed that the global factors impacting people’s sleep are much more varied and complex,” says Teofilo Lee-Chiong, MD, chief medical liaison, Philips, in a release. “And, while it’s refreshing to see people around the world equally valuing sleep as critical to their overall health, there’s clearly more that people can be doing to ensure they’re on a path to a better night’s sleep.”
Of the 7,817 people surveyed in the US, Brazil, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, 96% responded saying sleep was very important; 57% admitted their sleep should be improved; and only 17% consistently slept well.
In addition to these questions, 6% of respondents claimed to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). That makes 100 million people globally suffering from this disorder. In the US, an estimated 10 million people have this condition with 80% of patients remaining undiagnosed, which suggests a substantial number of people may benefit from proper screening, diagnosis, and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. To make matters worse, only around 1-2% of those with OSA receive treatment.
Interestingly, a list of 12 key factors surveyed overall health and well-being, including family, work, school, social life, and intimacy with a partner. From the list, sleep ranked the highest in importance at 87%. Close behind it at 84% was money/financial security. Another survey of 13 factors asked respondents what kept them up at night: 25% answered with financial/economic issues. Surprisingly, 67% of respondents said their mobile phones were in reach, but only 21% remarked that technology was a sleep disrupter.
“Our report indicates how psychological factors can impact sleep, and how those factors can change depending on the times in which we live,” says Dr. Mark Aloia, senior director of global clinical research, Philips. “Combating stress is critical to a good night’s sleep, but the toughest part for people is often just getting motivated to make changes. These data further demonstrate that sleep needs to be viewed and treated holistically, with both technology and lifestyle solutions that work together to promote better health.”
How Might You Take Sleep More Seriously?
The first step to improving your health often begins with investigating an underlying problem. If lack of sleep is yours, then it could be a sleep disorder. Globally speaking, sleep disorders are not uncommon. The more serious problem of obstructive sleep apnea may affect over 100 million people globally. OSA is often mis- or undiagnosed here in the US as it is in other countries. If you feel you’re at risk for sleep apnea symptoms, talk to your doctor about seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, trained in obstructive sleep apnea.
Besides understanding and being aware of potential sleep disorders, it is important to develop behaviors that improve your sleep. Yet in this economy, it’s no surprise that financial and economic issues creep into our sleep—they’ve been life stressors for some time—but let’s take notice of how minor life changes, like exercise, can balance the body and mind for a good night’s rest that we all deserve so much.