Color & Control:

Sleep on it!

A bilingual Canadian Public Health Campaign to promote the importance of sleep in the maintenance of good health.

By Julie Carrier, PhD

Did you know that sleep deprivation can reduce your reaction speed as much as a blood alcohol level of 0.08g—the legal limit for driving? Or that narcoleptics get drowsy and can fall asleep involuntarily at work, school, or in the street? Or that in as little as six years, people who only sleep barely six hours a night gain more weight than those who sleep seven or eight?

Sleep deprivation also has a steep economic cost. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada loses $21.4 billion a year in productivity from absenteeism, accidents and injuries caused by sleep deprivation.

The Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network (CSCN), the Canadian Sleep Society, Fondation Sommeil and Wake-up Narcolepsy Canada have joined forces to launch Dormez là- dessus—Sleep on it!, a bilingual Canadian public health campaign to promote the importance of sleep to maintain good health.

“Canada is a leader in sleep research and now, with Dormez là-dessus / Sleep On It!, we’re the first country in the world to make its dissemination a public-health priority,” said Julie Carrier, a psychology professor at the University of Montreal, researcher at the Montreal North Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre and the scientific director of CSCN and the campaign, “Sleep on it.” “Research into sleep has progressed a lot over the past 15 years and the public, including people who suffer from sleep disorders, has a right to get the best, most valid scientific information, presented in a simple and original way,” said Julie Carrier.

The “Sleep on it” campaign focuses on promoting the importance of sleep to maintain good health, demystify sleep difficulties, and offer solutions to patients. The first objective aims to increase the awareness about sleep for the general public and decision makers by using scientifically valid and straight-forward messages:

  • Sleep is crucial for physical, emotional and cognitive health. To stay healthy, it is as important to sleep well as it is to eat well and be physically active.
  • There are many sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepwalking, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and shift work sleep disorder. Fortunately, there are solutions for each one!

The second objective aims to create partnerships with a variety of stakeholders interested in further supporting health policy improvement associated with sleep management.

It is normal that the health crisis linked to COVID-19 can lead to stress and anxiety and upsets our sleep. This can affect people of all ages. As sleep specialists, we are now taking part in the collective effort to be resilient. We are sharing with the public the consequences that this COVID-19 related crisis could have on sleep and we offer suggestions on how to achieve a good quality sleep that will lead to a better physical and mental well-being during this critical situation.

Julie Carrier, PhD, Scientific Director “Sleep on it” campaign •

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