Sleep Health Promotion: Practical Information for Physical Therapists

Phys Ther. 2017 Aug 1;97(8):826-836. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzx057.


Sleep disturbances occur in one third of the US population, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control has deemed insufficient sleep to be a public health problem. Knowledge about sleep and skills to screen sleep disorders and to promote sleep health have been recommended for physical therapists. Furthermore, in survey studies, physical therapists overwhelmingly agree that sleep is important for health and poor sleep impairs function. Sleep is critical for the proper functioning of the body, including immune function, tissue healing, pain modulation, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and learning and memory. Sleep disruptions occur across the life span and in individuals with various conditions that are typically treated by physical therapists. Therefore, the purpose of this perspective paper is to (1) discuss the relevance of sleep to physical therapist practice, (2) recommend tools to screen for the 3 most common sleep disorders, and (3) provide suggestions for how therapists can integrate sleep health in prevention, health promotion, and wellness interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / rehabilitation*