In an Australian survey from the Sleep Foundation Australia in 2010, 23% of adults believed that they did not get enough sleep, the repeated survey in 2016 revealed that over 50% of respondents believed they did not sleep enough. The age distribution was evenly spread across the ages in 2010, but skewed significantly in the 2016 study to the 18-24 year olds reporting more sleep problems, suggesting that modern technologies and distractions are contributing more than illness.

It is estimated that 10-15% of adults have a formal sleep disorder, restless legs, sleep apnoea or insomnia due to pain. Sleep is squeezed between work, social commitments, family and media and is often thought of as the area where cuts can be made, an hour or more less will have no consequence. Sleep is one of the key factors linked to good health. Lack of sleep can affect many measurable areas, mood, memory, weight, learning, clear thinking and immune system. There have also been links made between poor sleep and cardiovascular disease risks. 

The Australian Sleep Health Foundation has published a list of the most common sleep myths we hold.

  • The brain shuts down and is inactive at night ; during sleep our brain processes information and cements long term memories vital for learning
  • It is possible to train yourself to require less sleep : the amount of sleep we need as an individual each night varies, the average adult needs 8 hours per night. Most people know how many hours they require to feel good the next day, getting less than this builds up a sleep debt which will impact on reaction times and thinking ability
  • Daytime naps are not helpful : daytime naps can be helpful if there has been sleep loss at night, but naps longer than an hour can cause " sleep inertia" - grogginess on waking up. Ideally a nap recommended by the Sleep Foundation should be about 15 minutes, but  some research has suggested 45 minutes.
  • Regular snoring is normal : snoring from time to time is common, loud snoring regularly may indicate sleep apnoea
  • We need less sleep with age : as we age the amount of sleep needed does not change, but sleep becomes less efficient
  • Sleep disruption is usually caused by stress : although one of the causes of interruption to sleep, there are many other causes including both medical, psychological and poor sleep habits. These other causes can be addressed, improving sleep quality and your daily wellbeing

Radio National is conducting  an on-line poll of the Nation's sleep habits, since commencing the survey over 6000 people have competed the questionnaire. The answers will be used together with evidence and scientific research presented in October through the website, with particular emphasis on how to improve your sleep.

To find the questionnaire see the front page of the Radio National website and click on the image of the sleeping man in the top right corner.

see : ABC Sleep Poll

For factsheets and up-to-date information about sleep see :

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