While it can be a nightmare trying to get the little ones down to bed every night, it’s not always such a challenge for us grown ups.
For most of us, hitting the pillow in the evening is a great joy and we are ready and willing to settle down for a big sleep.
Sleep is vital to our health. And there are a number of factors you should consider to ensure you’re getting the quality rest your body needs.
The facts about our sleep health
The latest research into Australians’ sleep health is enough to wake you up in a cold sweat.
Up to 45 percent of Australians sleep poorly or don’t get enough hours of sleep each night. This leads to fatigue and sleep deprivation which can have alarming consequences. One in five people surveyed admitted they have nodded off behind the wheel of a vehicle they have been operating.
Devices in the bedroom
Many of us like to sneak tablets and phones into bed at night – and a significant percentage of bedrooms also have televisions in them.
This can delay your bedtime – and not just because what you’re watching on Netflix is riveting. The bright lights of these devices can increase your alertness and prevent you from falling asleep. So it is best to keep screen-time in the bedroom in moderation.
Snoring is annoying, but it could also be serious
Almost a quarter of all Australian men and 17 percent of women suffer from frequent, loud snoring. This snoring, along with pauses in breathing while sleeping, becomes more common as we head into middle-age.
Those who snore are unlikely to be getting a proper night’s sleep, with 70 per cent reporting daytime impairment. Snoring can also be a major symptom of sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea and serious sleep conditions
More than 60 percent of people who snore wake up feeling unrefreshed. This suggests undiagnosed sleep apnoea is a widespread problem in Australia.
The condition is characterised by the walls of a person’s throat coming together and partly, or completely blocking, the airway while they are asleep. It can be very serious for some people, requiring treatment with a CPAP machine to keep the airway open.
Around one in three people have at least mild insomnia, another condition that can impact the length and quality of sleep. This can be caused by a range of factors including stress, medications, pain, depression and anxiety.
Restless legs syndrome is the constant urge to move the legs (and sometimes arms) while lying in bed. It is another common sleep barrier, with up to 15 percent of the population suffering from some degree of this condition. It can result in mild irritation, all the way up to pain and seriously disturbed sleep.
If any of these conditions are making it hard for you to get a proper night’s sleep, contact your GP for a treatment plan.