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Australia... we've got a SERIOUS sleep problem.

When was the last time you had a full 9 hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep? If you can’t remember that time or just laughed at that absurd statement, we’ve got something to tell you.

You may or may not know, but YOU are one of the 40% of Australians that is sleep deprived. New research by the Sleep Foundation has revealed that between 33-45% of ALL AUSTRALIANS have terrible sleep patterns. We’re not talking a crappy night of sleep here and there, but a downright awful sleep schedule that may eventually ruin your life.

Most of us know the short-term consequences that lack of sleep induces, including grumpy moods, low energy and looking like you’ve being hit by a bus. But did you know the long term effects are even more terrifying? We’re talking obesity, higher chance of accidents (it’s like driving drunk when you’re sleep deprived), osteoporosis, decreased immunity and much, much more.

Published in the Sleep Foundation’s International Sleep Health Journal, it was discovered that our sleep deprivation isn’t just an issue, it’s become an epidemic. The research highlighted that there are key issues that affect us based on our gender alone.

Ladies, you’re more likely to have difficulty falling asleep and have an issue of waking up too early. If you’re waking with feelings of frustration and exhaustion even before you’ve started your day, you could definitely be suffering from sleep deprivation. Even if women have the same amount of sleep as males, they’re more likely to feel sleep deprived than their male counterparts.

For men, it’s more diagnosed sleep disorders that lead to a  lack of sleep. Disorders like sleep apnea are more common in males, and can really affect their sleep pattern.

If you could guess one of the biggest contributors to sleep deprivation for Australians, what would it be? If you thought ‘social media’, ‘Netflix’ or ‘tv’, you win! Dr Hillman, Director of the Sleep Health Foundation, says “Overall, 44% of adults are on the internet just before bed almost every night, and 59% of these late night workers, web surfers, movie watchers or online gamers have more than two sleep problems.”

Sure, we all like to get home and chill out with some screen time, but excessive exposure could be ruining much more than just your sleep pattern. “The result is a less productive, less safe and less pleasant work and family environment… accident risk goes up, workplace performance goes down and your mood, your heart and your blood pressure can all be affected.”

The scariest thing is, with the invention of new technologies and as we become more reliant on screens, the problem is only going to get worse. Statistics show that the prevalence of sleep deprivation has increased (for the worse) by 5-10% on average for Australians since 2010.

The solution? Whilst there isn’t a one-size-fits-all fix, Australians need to change their attitude towards sleep for good. Next time you think “one more episode!”, think back to this article. Without an attitude change, Australians will continue to spiral further down the path of destruction that sleep deprivation is.

As Dr Hillman says, “We need a fundamental change in the way sleep is viewed by everyone from teenagers, parents and teachers through to bosses, doctors and our top politicians.”

Koalas, it’s time to jump into bed!

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