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Sleep Med Res > Volume 14(4); 2023 > Article
Chung: Sleep and Public Health
The lack of sleep results in decreased concentration and memory, reduced reaction time, impaired judgment, and decision-making abilities for each individual. Consequently, productivity may decline, and inadvertent mistakes or errors may occur more frequently during tasks. Sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, hypersomnia, insomnia, and others can also induce daytime drowsiness, leading to similar mistakes and errors as those caused by sleep deprivation [1-3].
In the modern era, with advancements in science and industry, people have achieved a more prosperous life. However, the development of artificial lighting has led to a reduction in sleep duration and an increase in sleep disorders. As society as a whole becomes more automated and mechanized, a single button press can have a significant impact on numerous individuals. On busy highways where numerous vehicles are in transit, if large transport vehicles such as buses or trucks experience accidents due to drowsy driving, the direct human and material losses are significant. Moreover, many other vehicles on the road, even those not directly involved in the accident, may also suffer repercussions through traffic control measures. Notably, accidents related to sleep deprivation or sleep disorders have been associated with major incidents. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident involved a fatigued shift worker turning off the cooling system in the early morning [4]. The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident was also linked to a lack of awareness about insufficient cooling water in the early morning [4]. The Bhopal gas leak occurred when appropriate measures were not taken early in the morning [5]. The Exxon Valdez oil spill incident was associated with the sleep deprivation of the first mate [4]. Additionally, incidents such as the grounding of the Star Princess cruise ship were related to the sleep apnea of the navigator [6], and the Michigan train crash was linked to the sleep apnea of the engineer [4].
To prevent errors caused by sleep-deprived doctors, both the United States and Korea have enacted laws limiting the working hours of doctors and ensuring minimum rest periods [7,8]. In Korea, rest areas have been established on highways to prevent drowsy driving, allowing drivers to take a short break and sleep before continuing their journey [9]. For individuals with severe sleep apnea, some countries require proof of successful continuous positive airway pressure therapy when renewing a driver’s license [10]. Others measure alertness levels to confirm the absence of daytime sleepiness or conduct sleep health campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of sleep health throughout society, providing necessary support.
Since sleep health has a direct correlation with the quality of life and can have significant adverse effects on both individuals and society, sustained attention, effort, and policies from the community and sleep-related organizations are essential to enhance sleep health, reduce sleep deprivation, and actively prevent and treat sleep disorders.


Conflicts of Interest
The author has no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.
Funding Statement


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2. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research, Colten HR, Altevogt BM. Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: an unmet public health problem. Washington, DC: National Academies Press 2006.

3. Berglund J. The danger of sleep deprivation. IEEE Pulse 2019;10:21-4.
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5. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Bhopal disaster” [Internet]. Encyclopedia Britannica; 2023 Nov 26 [accessed 2023 Nov 29]. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/event/Bhopal-disaster.

6. National Transportation Safety Board. Marine accident report: grounding of the Liberian passenger ship Star Princess on Poundstone Rock, Lynn Canal, Alaska, June 23, 1995 [Internet]. Washington, DC: National Transportation Safety Board; 1997 [accessed 2023 Dec 1]. Available from: https://trid.trb.org/view/759445.

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8. Ministry of Health and Welfare. [Regulations relating to the training and accreditation of board certified physicians] [Internet]. Sejong: Korean Law Information Center; 2017 [accessed 2023 Dec 1]. Available from: http://www.law.go.kr/LSW//lsInfoP.do?lsiSeq=198939&efYd=20171121#000 Korean.

9. Han DJ, Kim E, Yang JH. A study on design elements of freeway rest areas for drowsy drivers. Int J Highw Eng 2018;20:1-8.
10. Bonsignore MR, Randerath W, Riha R, Smyth D, Gratziou C, Goncalves M, et al. New rules on driver licensing for patients with obstructive sleep apnoea: EU Directive 2014/85/EU. Eur Respir J 2016;47:39-41.
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