Searching for our bad sleep at the bedside

By Pascale Santi

Posted on December 06, 2021 at 6:10 p.m. – Updated on December 07, 2021 at 04:56 a.m.

The figures are instructive: nearly 70% of French people report sleep problems, according to the latest data from the Coviprev survey, from Public Health France (SPF), carried out since March 2020. That is 20 points more than before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite a slight improvement this summer, the nights of the French are still rough. The effects of the health crisis, the desynchronization of rhythms, uncertainty continue to weigh on mental health, and prevent us from easily falling into the arms of Morpheus. Much work in this direction was presented at the Sleep Congress, co-organized by the French Society for Research and Sleep Medicine (SFRMS) and the Société de pneumologie de langue française (SPLF), which took place in Lille, from November 24 to 26.

Laure Peter-Derex, deputy head of the center for sleep medicine and respiratory diseases at the Croix-Rousse hospital, in Lyon, November 29, 2021.

It’s not a new problem. Over the past fifty years, the French have lost between an hour and an hour and a half of sleep, with an average time of six hours and forty-two minutes on weekdays in 2017, according to the SPF survey, less than the recommended seven hours, a duration that varies from person to person. This downward trend is even more marked among adolescents and also affects children. L’Inserm already mentioned, in 2019, this “Scourge of modern societies”. The writer Marie Darrieussecq speaks, in her last novel, Not sleeping (POL, 320 pages, 19.90 euros), his “Holed nights”. Specialists have been warning for years about this “Catastrophic epidemic of sleep loss”.

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“The overconsumption of media, against a background of anxiety-inducing messages, does not help matters, as does the negative impact of noise and light. But above all, the time spent on the screens reduces sleep time and degrades its quality ”, explains Damien Léger, head of the sleep and vigilance center at Hôtel-Dieu (AP-HP). This development is also explained by the increase in the number of night workers, commuting times, workloads and stress. Consequence: 30% of the French sleep less than six hours per twenty-four hours, and are therefore in sleep debt.

However, we know that this deficit has deleterious effects on health and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases (arterial hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, etc.), metabolic disorders (obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc.). Beyond the impairment of quality of life, sleep disorders have multiple consequences, in particular on suicidal desires, absenteeism and traffic accidents. Conversely, getting enough sleep also plays a role in immunity, cognitive functions, concentration, learning, and memorization.

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Searching for our bad sleep at the bedside

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