Sound Sleep


How can your private practice highlight National Sleep Awareness Month?

By Don Levine, PT, DPT, FAFS

The marketing and PR Committee looks ahead to March to see where our efforts might coincide with some of the national events or causes on our calendar. In past years, we have highlighted issues such as brain injuries, March Madness, and the start of Little League baseball and softball. This year, we will focus on a topic that affects not only your current and potential patients, but also your employees and co-workers. March is National Sleep Awareness Month, a topic that impacts individuals on many levels.

We all know how we feel when we do not get enough sleep—but what are the benefits for getting a good night’s sleep?

Just the Facts

What happens when we sleep?1

  • Our blood pressure drops.
  • Muscles relax and receive more blood flow.
  • Tissue growth and repair occurs.
  • Hormones are released (such as growth hormone).
  • Energy is provided to the brain and the body.

What happens when we do not get enough sleep?2

  • Accidents occur: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.
  • Sleep loss impedes cognitive function: Lack of sleep impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving.
  • Lack of sleep is linked to depression.
  • Loss of sleep can lead to weight gain: Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. “Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite.”
  • Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin. Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite, but it also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.
  • Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues. Chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for: Heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes.

Chronic sleep deprivation can also jeopardize your patients’ ability to heal. Just one night of less than six hours of sleep negatively affects the expression of more than 700 genes the next day. This leads to weakened immunity, increased inflammation, and decreased cell repair.3

Sleep facts and teens
The Better Health Channel says the typical teenage brain wants to go to bed late and sleep late the following morning. Work on adjusting your body clock and check out these tips:4

  • Choose a relaxing bedtime routine, for example, have a hot bath before bed.
  • Avoid loud music, homework, computer games for about an hour prior to bedtime.
  • Start your bedtime routine a little earlier than usual (for example, 10 minutes).
  • Avoid staying up late on weekends.

Sleepfoundation.org offers teens some other tips:

  • Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet, and dark.
  • Do not eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime.1

Provide information in multiple formats, such as on a company Facebook page, newsletter, and website. Leave facts up in your staff break room.


Hold lectures for coaches, parents, and athletes. The links below offer free information that is easy to share with your community.

Looking at the statistics and suggestions above, it is obvious that sleep deprivation is an epidemic. From improved healing rates to improved performance and mental acuity, helping our patients, staff, and co-workers understand the importance of a good night’s sleep is beneficial to all. While we make note of this for the month of March, physical therapists should spend time every month of the year discussing the benefits of sleep with our patients.

The Marketing and PR Committee hopes that these ideas will help you promote your practice and engage your community. We would love to hear about your successes. We can all spread the message about the benefits of physical therapy—as well as a good night’s sleep.

Share your events in the Marketing section on the PPS Message Board at www.ppsapta.org.


1. National Sleep Foundation. Website www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/what-happens-when-you-sleep. Accessed December 2014.

2. WebMD. Website www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss?page=1. Accessed December 2014.

3. Psychology Today. Website www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-factor/201303/the-healing-significance-sleep. Accessed December 2014

4. Better Health. Website www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bharticles.nsf/pages/Teenagers_sleep. Accessed December 2014.


Don Levine, PT, DPT, FAFS, is chair of the marketing and PR committee and co-owner of Olympic Physical Therapy with five locations in Rhode Island. He can be reached at dlevine@olympicpt-ri.com.