Australian man not sleeping enough

When did Australians stop sleeping enough?

Read the staggering facts and figures unearthed by the recent Australian parliamentary inquiry, and the 25 main conclusions that detail why almost half of all Australian adults are struggling with ongoing insomnia, mild anxiety, and the night-time use of mobile phones, meaning they and their children are not getting the sleep they need to stay healthy. And why that's a serious problem!

1) More than 1 in 3 Australian adults regularly experience inadequate sleep patterns and sleep duration.

2) Insufficient sleep leads to chronic diseases and over-eating, weight-gain, impaired judgement, increased risk of driving accidents, and reduced productivity during the day.

3) The annual cost to the Australian economy in 2016 – 2017 of inadequate sleep patterns was measured by Deloitte Consultants to be in excess of AUD 66 billion or AUD 180 million dollars every day of the year.

4) About 1 in 5 Australian adults get inadequate sleep on a near-daily basis.

5) The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is the peak scientific research body in the United States of America studying sleep patterns and their expert clinicians suggest that for good health:

- younger children need to get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night;
- teenagers need to get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night; and,
- adults need to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

6) About 1 in 5 of Australian adults suffer from ‘excessive daytime sleepiness’, known to clinicians as EDS disorders, and many if not most of them also drive a car each day.

7) About 1 in 8 of Australian adults are chronically short of sleep and get less than 5 ½ hours sleep each night - and it gets worse as adults age beyond 50 years old!

8) In the prime working age range of 18 to 44 years old about 1 in 3 adults get insufficient sleep, likely due to constant work stress, looking after young children, and long drives to their office.

9) The University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre (USyd-BMC) reported that mobile phones and other electronic gadgets lead to teenagers and adults going to sleep much later and waking up more often during the night.

10) The Canberra Sleep Clinic suggests that schools have to cope with 1 in 4 of their children dealing with frequent problems getting enough sleep.

11) The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health (AISH) suggests that a massive 85% of teenagers - or 5 out of 6 teenagers - are getting insufficient sleep to concentrate and learn optimally.

12) About half of school-age children go to bed with their mobile phone and then remain active on social media, feeling they need to participate in discussions 24 hours per day.

13) SleepFit Clinic noted that streaming TV and film services are now available on mobile phones which means teenagers and adults often stay up much later than a decade ago without anyone knowing.

14) Professor Robert Adams noted that 1 in 5 college students and working adults work on a computer screen throughout the evening until going to bed.

15) The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) noted extensive research showing that lesser amounts of sleep correlate closely with poor social wellbeing, insecure work contracts, and financial hardship.

16) Professor Grunstein described how LED lights emit more light in the blue spectrum which dysregulates the circadian system - the controlling clock of the brain - by substantially reducing melatonin production within the pineal gland of the brain.

17) The Waubra Foundation suggested that sleep disturbances due to road traffic and airplane noise means that both adults and children suffer from chronic ongoing problems relating to mood, concentration and learning.

18) About 1 in 10 of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by insufficient sleep and drowsiness.

19) About 3000 Australians adults die earlier than expected with heart conditions, hypertension, and arrhythmias, because their inadequate sleep patterns likely don't allow their heart tissue and small arteries to regrow, heal, and strengthen in time.

20) Associate professor Siobhan Banks suggests that inadequate amounts of sleep lead on to weight gain, obesity and other metabolic diseases, including diabetes 2, and that maybe clinicians and GPs should put the sleep patterns of their patients at the top of their list.

21) The Charles Perkins Centre stated that inadequate sleep has been linked to cancers, including pancreatic, colorectal, lung cancer, glioblastomas and melanomas. Worse still, patients with poor sleep patterns see their disease progress much faster.

22) The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) found that sleep disturbances lead to mental health problems, a fourfold increase in depression, and suicidal ideation.

23) The University of Sydney Brain Mind Centre suggest that clinical research shows there is a bidirectional relationship between sleep disturbance and neurodegenerative diseases, leading to more rapid cognitive decline and aMCI (amnestic mild cognitive inhibition). Poor sleep patterns affect every nerve cell in the body and brain.

24) The RACP described how in daily life inadequate sleep patterns lead to increased risk-taking and accidents: 

‘Sleep loss impairs cognition, psychomotor function, and mood. This can result in lapses in attention and clear focus; reduced motivation; compromised problem solving; confusion; irritability, and memory lapses; impaired communication; slowed or faulty information processing and judgement; diminished reaction times; and indifference and loss of empathy.’

25) The Australian Institute of Sleep Health stated that ‘fatigue and sleepiness kill more people on the road than drugs and alcohol combined’ and that drowsiness is ‘the underlying cause of 20 to 30 per cent of road crashes’ in Australia.


Parliament of Australia, Standing committee on health, aged care & sport, report summary of the inquiry into sleep health, 2018 - 2019.

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