Aussies in the dark about poor sleep

Most Australians suffer broken sleep – and 62% are ignoring “critical” signs that poor sleep could signify a serious problem, says Amcal

The 2019 Sleep Health Survey, conducted by Amcal, surveyed 1,057 Australian adults between 26 November 2018 and 14 December 2018, and found that 76% of Australians experience broken sleep at least once a week.

As a result, they can experience ongoing health issues including consistent fatigue, and a greater risk of accidents and injuries due to the typically slower reaction time of a person who is tired.

However only 20% of those experiencing broken sleep had ever had their sleep health assessed by a professional.

Of those who had, 32% said the screening was well over two years ago.

The data also showed that millions of Australians do not have a good understanding of chronic sleep conditions in general: for example, 61% were unable to correctly define common sleep debt conditions such as obstructive sleep apnoea.

Amcal Professional Services Manager Brinley Hosking said the research indicates a fundamental disconnection between those that are suffering from debilitating sleep conditions, including sleep apnoea, and those that register and identify as potentially having one of these conditions.

“It is a cause of concern when most Australians are unable to define such a serious condition [sleep apnoea], which affects so many people who typically remain undiagnosed for years. Despite this condition impacting millions, common symptoms that people can overlook include difficulty breathing at night, constant fatigue and regular mood swings,” she said.

“Culturally, we can be quick to dismiss a poor night’s sleep as an ordinary, even socially acceptable occurrence, however, this can be a dangerous line of thinking.

“In fact, our research found that more than four in 10 (44%) Australians do not identify in having a sleeping problem, yet almost double (75%) this figure cited experiencing irregular sleeping behaviour,” she said.

Many choose to overlook symptoms such as frequent visits to the bathroom, choking or gasping for air, and/or loud and persistent snoring.

The survey also found the impact of poor sleep health had significant effects on an individual’s mental and physical health.

More than four in 10 (46%) admitted to feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed as a result of their poor sleep hygiene, while 53% also confessed to skipping their morning workout.

Ms Hosking said the impact of sleep loss is putting a heavy strain on relationships nationwide.

“According to our research, more than one in 10 (11%) ask their snoring partners to sleep on the couch or in another bed, while a similar number (13%) admitted they intend to sleep in another bed until their partner’s sleep health improved,” Ms Hosking said.

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