If you spoke to anyone you know right now, and asked, “Are you sleeping well?” The answer would more than likely be no.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all of us in more ways than one, and the ever-changing updates and restrictions coming in constantly, the sense of uncertainty and lingering anxiety makes it near impossible to switch off at the end of the day.
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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.
And that was before coronavirus.
So in a time where days are stressful and sleep is the best possible place to push the worry aside, how can we do it better?
In search of the answers, Mamamia‘s daily news podcast, The Quicky, spoke to Dr Amy Reynolds, a sleep researcher and senior lecturer at CQUniversity.
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.”
What causes insomnia?
“We’re all quite different in what affects our sleep. And that makes it really hard to provide education and awareness for everybody, because the message is often quite different — what affects you and your sleep might be a little bit different to what affects mine.