Leverage sleep for improved public health

This is not a fully formed idea. I’m merely making some obvious connections that I came across by chance maybe someone can improve on.

I heard about RISC, Levitt's interest in mental health education and the Cook County project just as I was finishing a book “Why we sleep” by Matthew Walker

Given his background and the fairly exhaustive approach of the book I am inclined to think it likely some of the fairly dramatic benefits the book describes many people could derive from improved sleep are possible. Other things I’ve come across trying to improve my own health and learning outcomes seem to agree. The book is fairly exhaustive and a possible source of many implementation ideas, some quick examples of project implementation outcomes could include:

• Better learning outcomes

• Better physiological health, from infectious disease to cancer

• Better psychological health

• Better work performance, especially by those who work in higher stakes professions and/or those linked to erratic work hours (healthcare workers, medical residents, public safety personnel, etc. )

The cook county inmate example certainly seems like a good starting point model for implementation ideas by combining elements of

• Authority or enforcement role

• Electronic monitoring

• Measurement of improved outcomes

I imagine the biggest issues come from the notorious difficulty in changing human behavior. Another big challenge could be the benefits, even if significant, still might not be obvious, especially in the short term. Even a crazy high positive responses in things like reduction of cancer rates or fewer illnesses would simply show up as an absence of a bad thing happening, which we are miserable at appreciating.

Environmental limitations are also likely often be significant: I.e. it’s hard to go to sleep earlier if there is random noise or those you live with maintain counter schedules.

That said going to bed earlier is often an easier thing to physically do, especially for those good at routines. It's easy for most of us to create a habit cue and set an alarm to go to bed. Maybe focusing on parents motivated to help their children succeed in education provide some of the better starting point areas.

The book has a whole chapter of possible project examples but perhaps this is actually one of the weaker sections that after reading/hearing the book seems to only scratch the surface of possibilities.

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