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Public health implications of sleep loss: the community burden

Sleep is a basic and necessary biological process that demands to be satisfied as much as our need for food and drink. Inadequate sleep can occur if insufficient time is allowed for it or if a disorder is present that disturbs sleep quality. It is only recently that we have begun to understand the scale of the health and social consequences of insufficient sleep and sleep disorders. Sleep loss from these problems is associated with disturbances in cognitive and psychomotor function including mood, thinking, concentration, memory, learning, vigilance and reaction times.1,2 These disturbances have adverse effects on wellbeing, productivity and safety. Insufficient sleep is a direct contributor to injury and death from motor vehicle and workplace accidents.3 Further, relationships have been demonstrated between shortened sleep and a range of health problems including hypertension,4 type 2 diabetes,5 obesity,6 cardiovascular disease7,8 and total mortality risk.