POLITICS
10/06/2015 12:37 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2015

The Surgeon General Wants You, America, To Sleep More

He gets 6.5 hours to 7.5 hours a night himself, which, really, isn't enough.

WASHINGTON -- The surgeon general of the United States is worried that we aren't getting enough rest. 

Dr. Vivek Murthy made the case that the country needs a collective nap during an appearance at the Washington Ideas Festival last week, arguing that work efficiency and lifestyle balance would benefit as a result.

“As all of us know,” Murthy said, “health is deeply intertwined with culture: what we eat, how active we are, how much we sleep. These are rooted in cultural norms. When I was training in medicine for example, there was a culture in medicine that strong people didn’t need sleep, that the less you slept, the more you just powered through a tough call not on no sleep, the stronger you were. That is not helpful to have a culture that supports healthy practices like that.”

He reflected on his own biography.

“When I was in training, there were studies being done that looked at the impact of sleep deprivation on residents’ ability to practice and medical errors,” Murthy said. “And they found that when residents are sleep deprived, they made more mistakes. And this is true in many lines of work.”

In his brief time in the post, the surgeon general has made preventative care and wellness a primary part of his mission. Sleep falls under that rubric. And, indeed, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioning that insufficient rest is a public health problem -- linked to, among other things, motor vehicle crashes -- it seems logical that the nation’s top doctor would make it a focus. Murthy said he gets between 6.5 hours and 7.5 hours a night, which, The Huffington Post informed him, was not enough. (The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends seven to eight hours.)  

“Thank you Dr. Stein,” Murthy replied.

But his calls for preventative care don’t end at the edge of the bed. Murthy has also advocated for parents to vaccinate their kids and for communities to encourage more walking

On that rainy day last week when the conference took place, Murthy said that he walked from his office -- just over a mile away. This amazing invention known as an umbrella had allowed him to stay relatively dry.

Watch the full interview below:

CONVERSATIONS