HEALTH

Congressional DS Caucus delivers wakeup call to Congress: Sleep is important

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — At the 27th Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucusluncheon briefing, “Counting on Your Sleep: Health and Dietary Supplements,” which took place this week, Michael Grandner, director Sleep and Health Program and assistant professor, psychiatry, medicine and psychology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, awakened an audience of more than 30 congressional staffers to the health consequences of sleep, addressing the negative outcomes from lack of sleep and the dietary supplements that can help improve sleep.

“This is an important aspect of health. It’s been shown that six hours or less of sleep at night, on average, is associated with things like impaired performance, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, poor mental health, inflammation and even shorter life span,” Grandner said. “I know in D.C. there are lots of people who are skimping on sleep, but there’s a really important public health message here.”

In addition to presenting some of the more commonly known dietary supplements that are taken to help support healthy sleep, such as valerian, melatonin, chamomile and tryptophan, Grandner discussed others like hops, exogenous GABA and glycine. He also talked about how nutrient deficiencies can negatively affect sleep.

For example, low levels of melatonin can cause a shallow sleep, insomnia and awakenings; low levels of magnesium can cause decreased melatonin function; low levels of vitamin D can be responsible for lower sleep quality and insomnia symptoms; and iron deficiency can cause restless legs syndrome.

“Sleep is part of our biology. It’s really important for health," he said. "Now is a time of great opportunity where the advances in sleep science are moving faster than they have ever before, and we can really leverage this to improve health and nutrition across the board—not just in the areas of sleep disorders.”

The educational event was sponsored by the bipartisan Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus and co-hosted by the leading trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry — the American Herbal Products Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Natural Products Association and the United Natural Products Alliance.

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