Sleep is a complicated subject, especially when it goes awry. It’s difficult to determine if the sleep difficulties are the symptoms of an underlying problem or the cause of the problem. Or perhaps, whether both are the case.

Regardless, the uncertainty stems from how little we know about sleep despite studying it in depth since the beginning of the 20th century. Ultimately, sleep is still a mystery, no matter how many brains waves we chart or sleep studies we execute.

Yet, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t promote research and knowledge concerning sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation is one popular source of research and knowledge specifically geared towards the topic of sleep. In this article, we give a brief overview of this organization, focusing on its goals and activities and highlighting some recent controversies.

What is the National Sleep Foundation?

The National Sleep Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted solely to sleep education. It was founded in 1990 and is based out of Arlington, Virginia.

The organization considers itself the global voice for sleep health, focusing on integrating cutting-edge sleep science with public realms like hospitals, schools, workplaces, and homes.

Additionally, it emphasizes dispersion of knowledge related to sleep disorders, primarily using its online website which features a number of articles on various sleep-related topics.

The National Sleep Foundation also hosts a number of rallies and events to highlight specific problems, like Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

The majority of its funding comes from pharmaceutical and medical device companies, which has caused some controversy in recent years.

Recent Controversies

The National Sleep Foundation has been frequently accused of having ulterior motives when it publishes its reports and articles, namely the motives of the corporations that are financing much of the research.

In particular, the foundation has been criticized for using exaggerated interpretations to push readers towards certain sleep medications.

For example, in 2005, the foundation published a poll describing high rates of insomnia in the American population.

Yet, when releasing the information of the poll to reporters, the sleep drug Lunesta was particularly stressed. Many critics asserted that this was clear evidence that the poll had been manipulated by corporate interests and could not be trusted.

A number of similar controversies have been reported in recent years. Some of them have been concerned with companies marketing sleep products by claiming that they are endorsed by the National Sleep Foundation, which the foundation denies.

Should you Trust the National Sleep Foundation?

Ultimately, the vast majority of the information dispersed by the National Sleep Foundation is high quality. Their website is geared more towards people just beginning to learn about sleep disorders and sleep cycles, and the information is succinctly communicated with no advertisements featured anywhere.

However, it’s good to be critical and use multiple sources for comparison when dealing with any corporation funded by corporate interests. This is especially true when the pharmaceutical industry is so lucrative and is likely including the National Sleep Foundation in many of its aggressive marketing efforts.

Still, the foundation’s website rarely offers opinions and focuses more on just presenting information in an unbiased manner.

While its motivation for conducting some of its polls has been questioned, all of the data is available on its website as well as various press releases and summaries of findings. Thus, it seems the foundation is attempting to present a comprehensive review of all the research it engages in. It does not seem like they are trying to hide anything or protect ulterior interests.

The National Sleep Foundation is also partnered with the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, both of which are reputable organizations devoted to public wellbeing.

Our Final Thoughts on the National Sleep Foundation

The National Sleep Foundation is a fantastic organization that disperses an array of information focused on sleep health.

What’s also unique is that many of their articles focus on more alternative strategies for dealing with sleeping disorders, like meditation and breathing techniques.

Ultimately, despite some recent controversies, we think they can be trusted; though in today’s age, that level of trust should always come with slight reservations. As our technologies are advanced, the information we uncover often surprises us, forcing us to rework our theories and formulate new explanations.

Thus, any organization that makes a claim of absolute certainty or truth should be questioned, unless there are years of research to back up the claim.

Even then, science is a fallible field of study that has been overturned many times in its history.

While we think it’s important to use the National Sleep Foundation as a reservoir of information, we think you should listen to your body first and foremost before making any decisions regarding sleep.

Feature image via allvectorlog

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