We’re a zom­bie na­tion

Our chronic lack of sleep cost­ing $36 bil­lion a year


CHRONIC lack of sleep is cre­at­ing a na­tion of zom­bies and cost­ing $36 bil­lion a year.

The epi­demic of sleep­less­ness is re­spon­si­ble for road deaths, work­place ac­ci­dents, loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity, fail­ure at school and life-threat­en­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions rang­ing from de­pres­sion to Type 2 Di­a­betes and heart dis­ease.

One-in-three Aus­tralians, from time poor fam­i­lies to teenage “screen ad­dicts”, do not get enough rest.

And the star­tling num­bers are in­creas­ing Ado­les­cents are the most sleep-de­prived group at 80 per cent, but al­most half of pri­mary school chil­dren do not get enough rest. Up to 45 per cent of adults need more shut-eye, too.

Anal­y­sis by Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nom­ics found poor sleep is a fac­tor in more than 10 per cent of de­pres­sion cases, 5.3 per cent of stroke cases, 4.5 per cent of work­place in­juries and 4.3 per cent of mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents. The Med­ibank Bet­ter Health In­dex has re­vealed the “in­ci­dence of anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and stress is twice as high among those suf­fer­ing from sleep dis­or­ders”.

The data shows those af­fected by sleep dis­or­ders also have a higher Body Mass In­dex than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion and are found to be less likely to ex­er­cise. “No mat­ter what age you are fa­tigue and sleepi­ness can af­fect how well you think, re­act, work and get along with oth­ers,” Med­ibank med­i­cal ad­viser Dr Sue Ab­hary said.

In­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised sleep ex­pert Dr Carmel Har­ring­ton said Aus­tralians “for­get that sleep is a fun­da­men­tal part of our well­be­ing”.

“A ma­jor con­cern is peo­ple’s at­ti­tude to­wards sleep de­spite be­ing aware they aren’t get­ting enough,” Dr Har­ring­ton said. “They say, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’, be­cause they have too many more im­por­tant things to do.”

Cen­tre for Road Safety ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Bernard Car­lon said “be­ing awake for 17 hours has a sim­i­lar ef­fect as blood al­co­hol (read­ing) above the le­gal limit.” “Crashes due to tired­ness are twice as likely to be fa­tal sim­ply be­cause driv­ers who are asleep can’t brake,” he said.

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