Australians aren’t getting enough sleep

Peter Terlato 8 February 2017 NEWS

phone tablet device before sleep

Undermining productivity and damaging mental health.

Deep and restorative sleep is imperative if you wish to be energetic, alert and productive. However, a new national sleep study has found a significant number of Australians aren't getting the rest they need.

Research conducted by the Sleep Health Foundation and published in the international Sleep Health Journal reveals 33-45% of Aussie adults are sleep deprived most nights, causing fatigue and irritability.

The study suggests this lack of rest is undermining productivity and potentially damaging mental health.

The average Australian is getting around seven hours of sleep per night, although one in ten (12%) sleep less than five and half hours and even fewer (8%) get more than nine hours rest each evening.

Three-quarters of those who sleep less than five and half hours say it affects them throughout the day.

The research also found a high number of adults (44%), particularly women, use the internet just before bed almost every night. Of these, almost two thirds (59%) have two or more sleep problems.

"Just like obesity, smoking, drinking too much and not exercising enough, sleep problems cause real harm in our community," Sleep Health Foundation director Dr David Hillman said.

The report says women are more likely than men to have trouble falling asleep, waking too early, feeling unrefreshed, sleepy, fatigued, exhausted, irritable and moody, even when they sleep as much as men.

However, men are more likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnoea than women. Sleep apnoea is a chronic sleeping and breathing disorder, in which the sufferer's breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

Insomnia, a difficulty with falling or staying asleep, is more prevalent among women.

Almost one third (29%) of adults admit to driving while drowsy once a month, while one fifth (20%) have fallen asleep at the wheel at some time. A smaller proportion (5%) had a driving accident after dozing off.

One fifth (21%) of men and more than one in ten (13%) women fell asleep at work in the past month.

The research shows Australia's sleep problems are 5-10% worse than they were six years ago in 2010.

Since 1930 international standards have dictated a maximum 48-hour work week but a new Australian study indicates those who exceed 39 hours per week risk damaging their mental and physical health.

It's shouldn't be surprising then that data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) last week found expenditure on mental health services has risen steadily over the last few years.

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