Aussies aren’t getting enough sleep – and it’s resulting in more than 3,000 deaths each year.
A new report from the Sleep Health Foundation showed that 33% to 45% of adults either sleep poorly or for not long enough on most nights. The effects include fatigue, irritability among other signs of sleep deprivation.
It revealed “alarmingly high” rates of internet use just before bed, particularly among women.
Of the 3017 deaths, the majority were caused by heart disease and diabetes linked to sleep disorders.
Meanwhile, 394 Aussies – that’s more than one per day – died as a result of either falling asleep at the wheel or in an industrial accident as a result of tiredness.
It estimated the “epidemic” cost Australia a staggering $66.3 billion in the 2016/17 financial year in terms of both productivity losses and medical expenses. 17% of people had missed at least one day of work in the past four weeks because they were too sleepy.
“These worrying results just go to show that sleep is not the national health priority it needs to be,” Sleep Health Foundation director Dr David Hillman said.
“Just like obesity, smoking, drinking too much and not exercising enough, sleep problems cause real harm in our community. It’s high time we moved this issue off the backburner to the forefront of national thinking.”
Four in 10 Aussies (that’s 7.4 million people) didn’t get enough sleep last year, according to the report.
Worryingly, one in five people admitted to nodding off while driving.
As a result, the foundation called for driving while tired to be criminalised. It insisted the practice is just as dangerous as drink driving.
“When you consider that one in every five car accidents is related to fatigue that is a lot of harm caused by people not getting the sleep they need,” Dr Hillman said.
“It’s time we treated sleep deprivation like alcohol and regulated against it.”
Research has shown that fatigue can have a similar effect on a driver’s performance as inebriation.
Although there is currently no test to check fatigue levels in drivers, a roadside test is being developed by Victorian researchers.
The “smart glasses” will track eye movements and measure blink time to help police identify tired drivers and keep them off the road.
Do you get enough sleep?