Open main menu

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is a U.S. nonprofit organization that promotes public understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. It engages in various activities to advance its purpose and goals, including the operation of several websites and the sponsorship of research. It is primarily funded and governed by the sleep-medication pharmaceutical industry. Though the foundation denies endorsing commercial products, some sellers have claimed that their products have some sort of "official" status with it.



Founded in 1990, the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation promotes public understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. It seeks to improve public health and safety by supporting sleep-related education, research, and advocacy.[1]

The foundation's goals are increased understanding of the importance of sleep to good health and productivity; prevention and/or remediation of health and safety problems related to insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders; expanded scientific research in sleep and sleep medicine; and implementation of public policy that promotes sleep education, research and treatment. The foundation is based in Arlington, Virginia.[1]


The foundation engages in various activities to advance its purpose and goals. Many of these are described on its website.[2] To help reduce the incidence and consequences of sleep-deprived driving, it sponsors Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and maintains a "Drowsy Driving" website.[3] To inform the public about the positive benefits of sleep health, it operates a sleep health website, covering sleep science, bedroom design, lifestyle, and the effect of age on sleep requirements.[4] Its promotional activities have been occasionally covered by national news media.[5][6]

Research sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation has been published in journal of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine,[7] and its educational conferences have been provisionally accredited for Continuing Medical Education credits by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.[8]


The foundation's programs are funded by corporate and individual contributions, and through its partnerships with corporations and government entities.[1] Its recent revenues are in the $3.5 million range, and its recent assets are about $5 million. Contributions are tax-deductible.[9] According to then-CEO Richard Gelula, "The largest single source of National Sleep Foundation funding is pharmaceutical and medical device companies."[10] In particular, nearly $1 million of its $3.6 million budget at the time came from manufacturers of sleeping medications.[11]


The NSF has been criticized by the American Institute of Philanthropy,[10] Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe of Public Citizen's Health Research Group,[12] Jerry Avorn (head of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Harvard Medical School),[11] and other consumer and medical ethics groups for its reliance on industry funding, and the possible influence of such funding on its work.[10] In 2005, for instance, they released a survey purporting to find extremely high rates of insomnia, declared insomnia to be a "crisis" and an "epidemic,"[12] announced an "Insomnia Awareness Day" and a "National Sleep Awareness Week," but the poll, the declaration of a dedicated day and week, and the widely distributed press kits were paid for by manufacturers of sleeping medications, and the public relations firm assigned to contact medical reporters about the poll took the opportunity to mention the shortly-approaching release of Lunesta (eszopiclone), the first sleeping medication approved in the United States for extended use.[10] Simultaneously, the drug's manufacturer assigned 1,250 pharmaceutical sales representatives to educate physicians about Lunesta, as part of a $60 million advertising push.[11]

A Sacramento Bee report on these connections also noted that 10 of NSF's 23-member Board of Directors had current or past financial ties to manufacturers of sleeping medications.[10]

A previous 2002 "Sleep in America" poll from NSF, which similarly characterized the results as revealing an "epidemic" of daytime sleepiness in its press release, was similarly characterized in a report by The Seattle Times as industry "astroturfing" due to sponsorship from the makers of the sleeping medications Unisom, Sonata, and Ambien.[13]

Similarly, NSF also worked with pharmaceutical company Merck to launch what they characterized as a "new educational program that highlights personal stories about sleep for four individuals from across the country;"[14] a report in the Huffington Post described this effort as part of a multi-pronged "unbranded" marketing effort for Belsomra (suvorexant), Merck's then-forthcoming new sleeping drug.[15]

Sepracor, manufacturer of Lunesta, also awarded a $300,000 grant to NSF for a series of "Sleep Medicine Alert" brochures designed raise awareness of insomnia amongst physicians.[11]

Though the foundation claims that it does not make commercial endorsements,[16] some merchants and products have claimed to be "endorsed by the National Sleep Foundation" or have implied such endorsement in their literature. Notable among these is My Pillow, which makes such claims in its very-frequently-run television ads. In 2016, My Pillow agreed to stop making this claim in California, and paid a large fine for this and other claims.[17][18]


  1. ^ a b c "National Sleep Foundation - NSF". Healthfinder website. United States Department of Health and Human Services. 2015-10-06. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  2. ^ "National Sleep Foundation - Sleep Research & Education". NSF website. National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  3. ^ "Drowsy Driving - Stay Alert, Arrive Alive". Drowsy Driving website. National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  4. ^ " by the National Sleep Foundation". website. National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  5. ^ Deutsch, Lindsay (2015-02-03). "National Sleep Foundation changes recommended snooze time". USA TODAY Network. USA Today. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  6. ^ "National Sleep Foundation's new recommendations for a good night's rest". CBS News website. CBS News. 2015-02-02. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  7. ^ Gradisar, Michael. "The Sleep and Technology Use of Americans: Findings from the National Sleep Foundation's 2011 Sleep in America Poll". Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 9 (12). Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  8. ^ "National Sleep Foundation". ACCME website. Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  9. ^ "National Sleep Foundation". Economic Research Institute: Nonprofit Comparables Assessor (Subscription Required). 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  10. ^ a b c d e Griffith, Dorsey; Wiegand, Steve (26 June 2005). "Health groups' funding faulted Not-for-profit advocates often have strong ties to the drug industry". The Sacramento Bee. p. A1. Archived from the original on 25 November 2005. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d LIEBERMAN, Trudy (July–August 2005). "Bitter Pill: How the press helps push prescription drugs, sometimes with deadly consequences" (PDF). Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b Holguin, Jaime (29 March 2005). "Sleep Study A Pipe Dream?". CBS News. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  13. ^ Duff, Wilson A (29 June 2005). "Many new drugs have strong dose of media hype". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  14. ^ "The National Sleep Foundation and Merck Urge Insomnia Sufferers to Prioritize Sleep and Move Beyond Tired". National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  15. ^ Cohn, Jonathan (31 March 2016). "Drugs You Don't Need for Disorders You Don't Have: Inside the Pharmaceutical Industry's Campaign to Put Us All to Sleep". HuffPo Highline. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  16. ^ "About NSF: Mission and Leadership". NSF website. National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved 2017-03-19. NSF does not endorse specific sleep therapeutics, therapies, products and services.
  17. ^ "Search results for National Sleep Foundation at The Home Depot". Home Depot website. The Home Depot. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  18. ^ "My Pillow / Truth in Advertising". website. Truth in Advertising (organization). 2016-01-14. Retrieved 2017-03-19.

External linksEdit