Fatal not to get 40 winks
AUSTRALIANS aren’t getting nearly enough sleep each night — and it’s slowly killing us.
Experts have warned of the major health, social and economic consequences of inadequate sleep, saying many people are suffering a kind of permanent jet lag as a result.
It also leads to lower productivity and can increase the risk of serious illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, obesity and depression.
And the Sleep Health Foundation estimates poor sleep claims the lives of 3000 people a year.
“The cost of sleep deprivation is utterly alarming and confirms we need to take urgent action to put sleep on the national agenda,” the foundation’s chair Professor Dorothy Bruck said.
Research by Deloitte Access Economics in 2017 found more than seven million people don’t get enough shut-eye, with a cost to the economy of $66 billion.
“The numbers are big, the personal and national costs are big, and their consequences should not be ignored,” Professor Bruck said.
On average, Australians get 6.5 hours of sleep a night, but 12 per cent clock up 5.5 hours or less.
Up to 45 per cent of people have poor sleep patterns and the number of health issues caused has risen by up to 10 per cent since 2010.
Some of the common causes of lack of sleep include stress, disorders like sleep apnoea, lifestyle factors and the use of screened devices in the bedroom.
Dr David Hillman, a director at the Sleep Health Foundation, said extreme lack of sleep was on the same par as smoking when it came to public health consequences.
“Just like obesity, smoking, drinking too much and not exercising enough, sleep problems cause real harm in our community,” he said.
Among the various potential implications are cardiovascular disease, obesity and mental illness. Sleep deprivation can also impair cognition, causing memory loss and lower concentration, with research finding one in five people say they’ve nodded off while driving.
The University of California study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found a lack of sleep is associated with social withdrawal.
“When evaluated on psychological tests of sociability, sleep-deprived subjects avoided other people and sleep deprivation led to hypersensitivity in brain regions that warn of human approach,” researchers found.
LETHAL CONSEQUENCES: It’s estimated poor sleep claims the lives of 3000 people a year.