A report by Access Economics estimated that more than 1.2 million Australians (6 per cent of the population) experience sleep disorders, while a recent survey of almost 1600 people aged 25-74 in New Zealand found that more than a third (35 per cent) reported not getting enough sleep, or that the quality is compromised.
The benefits associated with a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be underestimated, says Dr John Mayhew, an occupational and sports medicine specialist. “Sleep is critical to our health and overall wellbeing, impacting key areas of life, such as maintaining a healthy weight and a resilient immune function.”
If you’re tired, for example, you’re less likely to prioritise exercise and healthy eating. If you sleep well you’ll feel both physically energised and mentally alert and more likely to make better choices in areas such as fitness and diet.
Sleep specialist Dr Alex Bartle says there are a number of reasons otherwise healthy people may not be getting enough sleep.
“Stress is a well-recognised factor linked to a disrupted night’s sleep. It’s also important to understand how your daily lifestyle may be impacting your melatonin levels.”
Melatonin, which is produced by your brain and signals that it’s time to sleep, can be suppressed by exposure to bright light while darkness promotes it.
A regular sleep routine can help, like going to bed and getting up around the same time every day, even at the weekends. It’s also recommended that your bedroom is a sleep-only haven, sans electronic devices. It can work wonders.