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Sleep and Its Impact on Loneliness

by Eliza Lo Chin, MD, MPH

This year, in observance of Sleep Awareness Week, an initiative of the National Sleep Foundation, AMWA curated a series of resources in collaboration with several of our members. One particular resource, authored by Paulina Awauh, delves into the repercussions of sleep disorders on social interactions. Awauh highlights, “Poor sleep quality is associated with neurological changes that diminish the desire to engage socially, leading to discomfort in social settings.” The long-term effects include a sense of loneliness.

Loneliness has garnered significant attention lately, largely due to the efforts of our Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. In 2023, Dr. Murthy issued a Surgeon General’s Advisory on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, a topic previously neglected in medical training. The advisory revealed startling statistics: poor social connections were linked with a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of dementia among older adults. Furthermore, loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 26%

Addressing Health Worker Burnout, another critical concern, is underscored in another report by Dr. Murthy, the Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Thriving Health Workforce. It emphasizes the importance of prioritizing the well-being of healthcare workers, and the harms of sleep deprivation.

A friend who knows my nocturnal habits asked me today – Are you getting enough sleep? It was a good reminder to make sleep a priority.

Learn more about the impact of sleep on health and wellbeing through AMWA’s Sleep as the Foundation of Health campaign and the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep Awareness Week.

For those interested in further insights from Dr. Murthy, listen to the podcast Housecalls with Dr. Vivek Murthy. Dr. Murthy will also share a short message at AMWA’s Annual Meeting next week.

AMWA Admin

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