There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who say things like “I pass out the second my head hits the pillow”, and the rest of us who silently resent them.
Unfortunately, it seems those in the tired and cranky camp are the majority.
According to a recent survey of over 2000 Australians by the Australian Sleep Foundation, 60 per cent of the population is experiencing at least one symptom of insomnia three or more times every week. That includes things like trouble falling and staying asleep, exhaustion, memory impairment, attention problems, irritability, hyperactivity, aggression or a lack of motivation.
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While the issue is more prevalent amongst older Aussies, the data showed that younger respondents are more likely to be consumed with worrying about not getting enough sleep; an issue which causes them to… well, not get enough sleep.
So how do we change that? What can we do to make sure we’re a nation of well-rested people?
In search of the answers, Mamamia‘s daily news podcast, The Quicky, spoke to Dr Amy Reynolds, Consultant Respiratory and Sleep Physician at the Australian Sleep Foundation and an associate lecturer at the University of Queensland.
How much sleep do adults really need?
“It sounds like it should be a simple question, and it’s often the one that people ask and want and magical number that they can achieve and everything will be fine,” Dr Reynolds said.
“What we know now is that sleep is quite complex and it’s different from person to person. So while the National Sleep Foundation recommends about seven to nine hours for an adult, what we know is it’s not just about those numbers or those hours of sleep. It’s actually about the quality of your sleep and when you’re getting it that matters.”
(In other words, one person who has five or six hours of quality sleep may fare better than someone who tosses and turns for eight.)
What’s the difference between insomnia and just getting a bad night’s sleep?
“One of the things that really defines insomnia is how chronic it is or how long it’s been going on for.
“So what we see in people who have insomnia is that they’re experiencing trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep, they’re feeling the consequences of that the next day and they’re feeling it most days of the week for more than three months, even when they’ve got enough time or opportunity to get the sleep that they need.”