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Phone: (02) 9114 0000
Address: 431 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW, 2037 Email: [email protected]
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Phone: (02) 9515 6655
Address: Level 11, Main Block, Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW, 2050
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Phone: (02) 9331 7546
Address: Suite 1, Level 7, 26 College Street, Darlinghurst, NSW, 2010 Email: [email protected]

Professor Ron Grunstein AM

Professor of Sleep Medicine


Where are the professional sleep societies in this consensus process for sleep length recommendations ?

Posted: February 10, 2015

The National Sleep Foundation has published recommendations on sleep duration for different age groups.

They state Eighteen leading scientists and researchers came together to form the National Sleep Foundation’s expert panel tasked with updating the official recommendations. The panelists included six sleep specialists and representatives from leading organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Anatomists, American College of Chest Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Geriatrics Society, American Neurological Association, American Physiological Society, American Psychiatric Association, American Thoracic Society, Gerontological Society of America, Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, and Society for Research in Human Development. The panelists participated in a rigorous scientific process that included reviewing over 300 current scientific publications and voting on how much sleep is appropriate throughout the lifespan.”

This blogger wonders what has happened to the role of the two largest professional sleep societies in this process – the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Surely if this is a consensus document, where are they in this list ? Were they invited ? Or is this more petty politics in an important issue ? Its interesting that you develop these recommendations by a vote but


sleep foundation sleep



that’s democracy – maybe. It may be wonderful to involve the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in this process (and obstetricians don’t get much sleep if they are doing their job properly) but seriously why no AASM or SRS ? Maybe these expert groups thought this was just a drive by the NSF to obtain funding from sleep wearable manufacturers who would love to have the whole universe measuring their sleep length. It sort of begs the question – shouldn’t the public health promotion group be driving the research translation program recommended by the professionals instead of driving the whole process themselves.

Its a bit hard to argue with this graphic above but I wonder whether the outcome of all this is going to be creating another army of worried well who strive each night to reach their recommended hours of sleep. Instead of “Sorry darling I have a headache” as the excuse for lack of amorousness, perhaps the new paradigm will be “Sorry, I have not reached the NSF recommendations of 9 hours sleep – you are out of luck”. One of the big problems in insomnia is performance anxiety and unfortunately there is no viagra for sleep – for some people just reading the guidelines or the often simplistic media reports are problematic and potentially insomniogenic. The qualification rules of inter-individual variability in sleep and performance, catch up homeostatic sleep drive etc may be glossed over.

Guidelines may be good but you need to be careful that you do not create a vicious cycle of sleeplessness in some.



Professor Ron Grunstein is a Sleep Disorder Specialist based in Sydney, who consults at the Woolcock Clinic and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and undertakes research at the Woolcock Institute, University of Sydney.