Lack of sleep, from traffic accidents to major disasters, sets off 'Butterfly effect' [National assembly symposium]②
Lack of sleep, from traffic accidents to major disasters, sets off 'Butterfly Effect'... Importance of improving sleep health awareness and policy support
Enhancing sleep health awareness: National assembly symposium②
Sleep disorders, leading to depression and reduced quality of life, could cause social issues such as workplace errors and drowsy driving
MedigateNews co-hosts national parliamentary symposium to improve public awareness on sleep health.
South Korea, known for severe sleep deprivation, records the lowest average sleep duration of 7 hours and 41 minutes, falling far behind the OECD average of 8 hours and 22 minutes. Korean sleep satisfaction scores a mere 2.87 out of 5, displaying a consistent decline annually. This persistent sleep deficit and deteriorating sleep quality have led to a nationwide economic loss estimated at 11.497 trillion won."
The 'National Parliamentary Symposium for Enhancing Public Awareness on Sleep Health' held on August 30th at the National Assembly's Member Conference Room marked the first-ever parliamentary symposium addressing the topic of sleep health. Organized by the Democratic Party's Representative Shin Hyun-young, the symposium was jointly organized by all sleep-related academic societies: the Korean Academy of Sleep Medicine, Korean Society of Sleep Medicine, Korean Sleep Research Society, Korean Society of Sleep and Breathing, Korean Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Korean Society of Sleep Research, Korean Sleep Technology Association, and MediGate News.
This event and article received support from the Government Advertising Fund for media promotion.
"Individual sleep deprivation could not only jeopardize personal health but also lead to errors in daily life or significant work-related mistakes.”
These issues, caused by sleep deficiency and sleep disorders, have been identified as potential contributors to societal challenges.
Sleep deprivation harms personal health: Risks of drowsy driving and workplace errors increase with sleep debt
President Jeong stated, "Sleep deprivation impairs an individual's concentration, memory, and reaction speed. In the short term, it weakens the immune system, leads to overeating, and causes burnout. In the long term, it can trigger conditions such as epilepsy, stroke, and heart disease. Additionally, in an attempt to prevent drowsiness, people tend to misuse caffeine and stimulants, leading to problems such as arrhythmia and sleep cycle disturbances."
He further explained, "If individuals do not get sufficient sleep needed for a day, accumulated sleep debt acts like a 'debt,' decreasing concentration and increasing mistakes. If this continues chronically, it can lead to severe health problems."
According to President Jeong, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 was influenced by the errors of shift workers suffering from sleep deprivation, who mistakenly turned off the cooling system, causing the nuclear accident. In 1979, a worker at Three Mile Island reacted too slowly to a malfunction in the cooling system due to lack of sleep, leading to a radioactive gas leak. Moreover, a naval officer suffering from sleep deprivation caused an oil spill incident when the tanker ran aground after sailing for 48 hours with only 6 hours of sleep.
President Jeong remarked, "Having sleep apnea or sleeping less than 6 hours is similar to being intoxicated. Approximately 25% of all traffic accidents are caused by drowsiness. Among accidents related to life, 75% are associated with sleep, indicating that drowsy driving can lead to significant accidents."
He emphasized, "There are various sleep disorders, with insomnia being the most common. Symptomatically, one-third of the entire population experiences it, and about 6-15% are diagnosed patients. Excessive daytime sleepiness occurs in 4-26% of cases, and obstructive sleep apnea affects approximately 2-4%. Additionally, narcolepsy is very rare, with a prevalence of 0.04%. However, patients with this condition face significant lifestyle issues."
President Jeong particularly stressed the need for early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea, stating, "In severe cases, sleep apnea has a three times higher mortality rate than in normal individuals, requiring active treatment. In children, snoring and sleep apnea hinder growth and learning. Sleep apnea causes concentration disorders, learning disabilities, inattentiveness, cardiovascular disorders, hormonal imbalances, and facial growth disorders."
He concluded, "Ultimately, sleep health is directly related to an individual's quality of life and has a direct impact on society as a whole. Therefore, active attention, effort, and policies are needed to enhance sleep health and actively prevent and treat sleep deprivation and sleep disorders."
Public awareness campaign essential for policy change
On this day, experts gathered to emphasize the importance of improving public awareness as a top priority for addressing sleep disorders and related health issues.
President Jung Ki-Young of the Korean Sleep Research Society (Professor of Neurology at Seoul National University Hospital) stated, "Being awake for 17 consecutive hours results in performance impairment similar to a blood alcohol level of 0.05%, and staying awake for 24 hours is comparable to being intoxicated at around 0.1%. However, in Korea, the situation of sleep deprivation is gradually worsening."
In fact, when examining the trends in sleep duration among Koreans surveyed by the Korean Sleep Research Society, it was found that although the average sleep duration increased slightly from 6.51 hours in 2004 to 7.15 hours in 2019, it still falls significantly short of the OECD average of 8.22 hours.
According to data from the National Health Insurance Service in 2023, the number of patients treated for sleep disorders has been steadily increasing. In 2017, there were 842,856 patients, but this number rose to 910,000 in 2018, significantly increased to 1,036,678 in 2020, and further increased to 1,097,282 in 2021.
President Jung emphasized, "Enhancing awareness of the importance of sleep is the most urgent task. To achieve this, systematic data collection through surveys is necessary, and government support is required to promote public awareness based on this data."
He continued, "In addition to sleep education in schools, campaigns to improve awareness of sleep-related issues should be conducted by companies and industries. This requires national research support and the establishment of sleep-related organizations."
He also mentioned, "The National Sleep Foundation in the US is one of the outstanding international examples. The United States, through the National Sleep Foundation, not only provides public sleep education but also develops programs to prevent issues like surveys, research, and drowsy driving. They even publish a magazine called 'Sleep Health' and have created guidelines for appropriate sleep duration and a sleep health index."