I have just finished reading the 171 page report titled Bedtime Reading an inquiry into sleep awareness in Australia. Maybe I don’t go out enough but I really enjoyed reading it!
The basic message from the report is we need to treat sleep as one of the pillars of good health alongside nutrition and exercise. Makes total sense but for most people getting enough sleep is not a priority.
The report stated four out of ten Australians regularly do not get the recommended amount of sleep due to sleep disorders, lifestyle pressures such as shift work and the increased use of electronic devices.
Regular inadequate sleep has a significant health impact. Sleep disorders can have a debilitating impact on a persons quality of life. Luckily for me I don’t suffer from a sleep disorder but there have been times when I have had short periods of insomnia, usually during times of stress. I feel for those people who suffer constantly from insomnia or any other sleep disorder.
Shift work and especially night shift can lead to long term health issues. The report state that shift work has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, sleep disorders, mental health conditions and cancer. Most shift workers are employed in occupations where safety is critical such as healthcare, transport and mining. Fatigue in these industries can lead to serious workplace accidents.
Sleep is an essential requirement for a persons well being and mental health. This really resonates with me as when I don’t get enough sleep my mental health declines. I have become very protective of my sleep in recent years as I know if I don’t get my 7-9 hours of sleep regularly I start to slide back into depression.
Inadequate sleep leads to reduced productivity. The report stated the direct financial cost of inadequate sleep is $26 billion dollars annually and rises to $66 billion annually if health and well being costs are considered. Remember this is for Australia only. I would hate to think about the cost globally.
Of concern is the rise of the use of digital devices and electronic media late in the evening especially for children and young adults. There is an increase in activities such as watching streaming services, internet gaming and using social media late into the evening at the expense of sleep. For children this impacts on childhood development as well behaviour and performance at school.
I know myself how addictive these activities can be. The Sleep Lover household has a no phone in bedrooms policy. It drives me insane if the phone beeps during the night and the teenage sleep lover has to turn his phone to silent otherwise the notifications go all night. All our phones and iPad’s are kept in the kitchen and I check that they are all there before I go to bed.
I have seen with the junior sleep lovers the impact of using digital devices for too long and too late in the day. Tired, cranky and irritable are not behaviours I like to deal with if they can be avoided by limiting or banning the use of devices.
The recommendation of the report is to develop a national education and awareness campaign to address the barriers to improve sleep health with the emphasis on how important sleep is in a healthy lifestyle and the risks to health and well-being of inadequate sleep.
My main goal for this blog is to provide practical advice and information on how to improve sleep health so I look forward to any campaign that promotes the importance of sleep.