The health problem costing Australia $10 billion

Every night when we go to sleep, more than 45% of Australians do this one thing and it is starting to have some huge health ramifications.

According to a recent survey from the Sleep Health Foundation, Australians have turned their bedrooms from a place of rest and intimacy into an entertainment or office centre. According to the study, 45% of us will take an electronic device to bed or will watch TV from bed and this is beginning to drive sleep disorders including insomnia.

Apart from being constantly interrupted through alerts, texts, messages and foreign noises from devices, the light of our phones is also contributing. The “blue light” on our screens actually blocks the hormone melatonin which encourages the body to relax and sleep.

The foundation’s sleep psychologist Professor Dorothy Bruck says, “A standard guideline for good sleep is that the bed should be reserved for sleep and intimacy only. So it was alarming to learn that so many people were using their sleep sanctuary to email, cruise the web and watch movies, all activities that are not conducive to sleep.”

The big problem is that a lack of sleep doesn’t only make people less alert and have shorter concentration spans, it can lead to much more serious health problems. Those with regular fragmented sleep are more at risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Lack of sleep has also been linked to depression and weight problems like obesity.

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When a lack of sleep is found to be a symptom or character of people with one of the above diseases it becomes a contributing factor and therefore, the Australian economy is spending around $10 billion on this every year.

According to the Daily Mail, if you’re struggling to sleep, here’s the five things to do from Professor Dorothy Bruck from the Sleep Health Foundation

  1. Have a regular sleep pattern. Try to go to bed at the same time every evening and get up at the same time every morning. This will help your body to work out a healthy sleep routine.
  2. Spend the right amount of time in bed. Most adults need about 8 hours sleep every night. Some require more and some less. Many poor sleepers spend much more than 8 hours in bed and this makes fragmented sleep a habit. Except if you have lengthy sleep requirements, limit your time in bed to no more than 8.5 hours. If you often take hours to fall asleep, go to bed later. Remember that children need more sleep than adults.
  3. Bed is for sleeping, not entertainment. Ditch the TVs, mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices. Your mind needs to be in the habit of knowing that if you are in bed, you are there to sleep. Don’t stay in bed if you are wide awake.
  4. Wind down and relax before going to bed. Have a buffer zone before bedtime. Sort out any problems before going to bed or allocate a ‘worry time’ during the day to go over the day’s activities and work out a plan of action for the next day. Try to avoid using your computer within one hour of bedtime as the blue screen will suppress the hormone that makes us sleepy. Don’t exercise too late in the evening. Find a relaxation technique that works for you.
  5. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable. You should have a quiet, dark room with comfortable bedding and good temperature control.

Tell us, do you have sleeping troubles?