The Simple Reason Aussies Are Struggling To Sleep
It turns out the majority of Aussies are rubbish sleepers and, for many, there could be a simple fix.
While we all know a good night's sleep is essential to a healthy and happy life, a lot of us are failing to prioritise a bit of shut-eye.
A survey carried out by the Sleep Health Foundation found that 60 percent of people report some sort of regular sleep issue, such as struggling to fall asleep, while up to 14.8 percent have symptoms that could result in a diagnosis of clinical insomnia.
In addition, nearly half don't feel like their hectic daily lives give them enough time to get a good night's rest.
“This suggests that for a huge proportion of our population, the pressures of work, families, social, or other lifestyle-related pressures prohibit them from getting the shut-eye they need," Professor Robert Adams, senior author of the study, said.
Sleep issues don't discriminate and are prevalent across the community irrespective of age and gender.
“The type of symptom varies with age, with older people more likely to have difficulty maintaining sleep, and younger adults have trouble initially getting off to sleep,” Adams said.
Women tend to be more likely than men to be anxious about getting enough rest and are more overwhelmed by thoughts when they try to sleep.
Sleep deprivation is affecting people's mood, safety, health and relationships more than ever before, the Sleep Health Foundation warns.
Researchers around the world have flagged dozens of weird and wonderful ways to help people fall asleep and stay asleep. Taking a 40-degree bath 90 minutes before bedtime, keeping your bedroom between 15 and 20 degrees and practicing yoga regularly are among them.
Scientists have even developed 'smart' pajamas to monitor heartbeat, breathing and sleep posture -- all factors that play a role in good sleep.
However, for those who don't suffer clinical insomnia and are struggling to get their eight hours, it may be more simple.
The key issue that needs to be addressed, according to Flinders University sleep expert Professor Leon Lack, is that many Aussie adults simply aren't prioritising sleep.
“My suspicion is that the percentage of those struggling to sleep has been increasing because people aren’t giving themselves the opportunity," Lack told 10 daily, adding that it needs to be a higher priority.
“We have a sleep mechanism that requires us to sleep for roughly one-third of the time, however, it varies for individuals,” Lack said, explaining that some adults function well with seven hours of sleep, while others may need nine.
"Giving sleep the opportunity is key,” Lack said.
“Getting good sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise."
Lack suggested keeping a degree of regularity, such as waking up at the same time every day and going to bed when you begin to feel sleepy instead of dozing off on the couch.
“Don’t look at your email or social media. Keep technology out of the picture,” Lack said.
“If, on a nightly basis, you are taking longer than 30 minutes to go to sleep, get out of bed, go to a different room and wait until you’re sleepy -- don’t toss and turn."
Lack explained that people should not be overly concerned about sleep.
"That can develop into anxiety and result in inadequate sleep," he said. Although that is easier said than done for many.
As for napping, Lack said there are benefits for power naps of up to 10 minutes.
“It doesn’t take much time and can be beneficial, but it’s not a good idea to split sleep,” he said, but warned against a longer sleep.
“In our society, it is a little more inconvenient to split sleep, it’s better to get one long sleep if you can," he confirmed, reiterating the importance of making time for sleep.
He warned that as people grow older, they will often experience an increase in sleeping difficulty.
"That’s perfectly normal and people shouldn’t be alarmed," he said.
Those suffering from serious sleeping difficulties are being urged to talk to their doctor. Alarmingly, relatively few discuss the issue with a professional.
“When discussed it is often only raised as a secondary issue during a consultation for other reasons,” said Sleep Health Foundation Chair Professor Dorothy Bruck.
Sleep treatments are available, they work and they are underutilised.
“[Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia] is the gold standard treatment for insomnia. It really works and yet, worryingly, very few people are accessing it," Bruck said.