16+ Shocking Sleep Statistics Australia Needs to Know

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In April 2019, Australian parliament ordered a federal inquiry to understand why Australians weren’t sleeping well at night and why they were dozing off in office and even behind the wheel. 

Yes, a F-E-D-E-R-A-L I-N-Q-U-I-R-Y into sleep health, which, by the way, no other country in the world had done. And that goes on to speak volumes about Australia’s sleep crisis, which some experts have also dub as Australia’s insomnia epidemic.

Seriously! Just look at these numbers.

Sleep Statistics Australia: Key Points

  • 2 out of 5 Aussies struggle with sleep on regular basis. That’s 10.3 million or 40% Australians not napping for the recommended 7 to 9 hours.
  • Close to 60% Australian adults show at least one sleep disorder symptom, of which, 14.8% Australians have definite symptoms of insomnia. Few seek help.
  • 25% of 12 to 15-year-olds in Australia don’t sleep for the prescribed 8 to 10 hours on school nights while that’s 50% among 16 to 17-year-olds. 
  • As few as 20% Australians sleep through the night uninterrupted.
  • Sleep deprivation is costing Australian economy a whopping $66.3 billion a year in health and indirect costs.
  • 40% sleep-deprived Australians die of heart diseases and diabetes.
  • 20% Australians have fallen asleep while driving and 5% of these have met with a car accident.
  • Almost 80% Australians report being less productive after sleeping poorly.

1. Sleep Deprivation

  • Only 45% Australians are satisfied with their sleep, according to The Philips 2020 Global Sleep Survey. 
  • As few as 20% Australians sleep through the night uninterrupted.
  • 10% Australians take more than an hour to doze off when the healthy range is 10 to 20 minutes.
  • 48.8% Australians complain that their erratic daily routine is hindering their sleep.

Source: Philips 2020 Global Sleep Survey, Sleep Health Foundation

2. Sleep Deaths & Accidents

  • 3,017 Australians died of sleeplessness between 2016 and 2017, Deloitte Access Economics found in a study commissioned by Sleep Health Foundation.
  • Of these, 394 deaths were industrial and road accidents and the rest were due to heart diseases and diabetes linked to sleep disorders.
  • 20% of Australians have fallen asleep behind the wheel, Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults found in 2016. Of these, 5% sleep-deprived Australians met with a car accident.
  • On an average, 31 people are killed and 462 seriously injured each year on Queensland roads in fatigue-related crashes, the Queensland Government shared in 2018.
  • 29% people drive drowsily at least once every month.
  • Drivers who haven’t snoozed in 17 hours perform the same behind the wheel as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 per cent, another report suggests.
  • Most sleep-related vehicle crashes happen between 2am and 6am and 2pm and 4pm.
  • Over 50% of fatigue-related crashes happen with 25km of departure, which means, driving in a drowsy state is not recommended even on short trips.

Source: National Sleep Health Foundation

3. Sleep Deficit & Australian Economy

  • Sleep deprivation is costing Australian economy a whopping $66.3 billion a year.
  • $26.2 billion is the financial cost, which includes health bills of $246 per person, productivity losses of $2,418 per person, informal care costs of $82 per person and other welfare expenses at $802 per person, a 2017 Deloitte Access Economics’ Asleep on the job’ report says.
  • The rest of$40.1 billion is the non-financial cost of healthy life lost through disability and premature death from inadequate sleep and associated conditions.
  • Stress, disorders like sleep apnoea, screen dependency in the bedroom and other lifestyle factors are coming in way of a good night’s sleep.
  • As per the 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults, 21% men and 13% women fell asleep at work in a month.

Source: National Sleep Health Foundation, Deloitte Access Economics

4. Causes of Sleeplessness

  • According to the 2018 Philips Global Sleep Survey, 51% Australian adults stayed up the night because of worry, 27% due to illness/physical discomfort and 21% due to technology distractions.
  • A separate 2019 survey found that 24% Australians worry about their children, 15% about aging parents, 19% about work pressure and 14% about job security.
  • A 2017 Sleep Health Foundation found that 44% adults use the Internet just before bed every night. Of these, 59% have two or more sleep problems and this set comprises of late night workers, web surfers, movie nerds and online gamers.
  • Among children, almost 28% of 12-15 year-olds with internet access in their bedrooms did not meet sleep guidelines, found a 2018 LSAC study. Not just before bed, almost 1 in 5 16-17-year-olds spending 8 or more hours per day on the internet were short on sleep.
  • Exposure to blue light from digital screens can reduce sleep by 16 minutes and cause an average of 7.6 sleep disruptions at night, reports Science Daily.

Source: Philips 2020 Global Sleep Survey, Sleep Health Foundation, LSAC Annual Statistical Report 

5. Sleep Disorders

  • As per the 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults, 20% suffer from insomnia – the difficulty in falling or staying asleep; 18% from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) – an irresistible urge to move the legs, particularly when trying to get to sleep; 8% from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) – a syndrome where a person’s breathing repeatedly stops while sleeping.
  • Type 1 Narcolepsy is prevalent too, affecting 1 in every 2,000-4,000. It combines excessive daytime sleepiness with one or more symptoms like sudden muscle weakness after waking up, sleep paralysis, hallucination and insomnia.
  • Non 24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder (N24) is another sleep issue, where an individual’s biological clock is not in sync with light and dark cycles of the day and night. It’s most common among the visually impaired.
  • 2.8% of Australians have RLS that is asymptomatic of other disorders.
  • Among 19% people who suffer from frequent, loud snoring and/or breathing pauses, 63% wake up feeling tired and 65% report one or more daytime sleep-related symptoms, suggesting that undiagnosed sleep apnoea is relatively common in Australia.
  • Sleep disorders are linked to physical and mental health. OSA and insomnia have increased by 30%-80%in the last two decades due to the rising obesity in Australia.
  • Sleep disorders are often co-morbid with depression and/or anxiety.
  • Only a few Aussies consult a doctor for sleep issues and more than often, they bring these up as secondary issues.

Source: Sleep Health Foundation National Survey

6. Insomnia

  • A 2019 Chronic Insomnia Disorder in Australia report revealed that 59.4% people experience at least one symptom of insomnia three or more times a week.
  • 50.4% Australians experience chronic insomnia (when the symptoms persist for three months or longer). It’s more common among the elderly.
  • Of these, 14.8% of Australian adults met the threshold for a clinical diagnosis of insomnia.
  • The nigh symptoms range from trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early or not being able to get back to sleep. During the day, fatigue, poor memory, irritability, hopelessness, aggressiveness are common markers.
  • While older people wake up a lot at night or in the wee hours – 47% among 65 years old and above as compared 22% among 18 to 24-year-olds, the younger folks struggle to fall asleep.

Source: Sleep Health Foundation National Survey

6. Sleep Apnoea

  • 5-10% Australians suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).
  • The occurrence of OSA differs with age and gender. SHF National Survey found 5% OSA cases among 18-24-year-olds in contrast to 12% OSA cases among the 65-plus group.
  • OSA affects men four times than women – 12.9% vs 3.7 per cent.
  • More than 80% of the sleep apnoea cases remain undiagnosed and only 27% of Australian adults suffering from sleep apnoea seek therapy.
  • 39% of Aussie adults found out they had sleep apnoea because their partner noticed they stopped breathing at night.
  • Mild OSA may increase the mortality rate by 2.5 times, causing sudden death at night by leading to cardiac arrests. Plus, patients with sleep apnoea are 4 to 9 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Source: Sleep Health Foundation National Survey

8. Sleep among Children & Teenagers

  • According to the Australian Government Department of Health (ADH), children aged 5-13 years should sleep for 9 to 11 hours while adolescents aged 14-17 years can do with 8 to 10 hours.
  • The good news is 88% pre-teens in Australia meet the minimum sleep requirements successfully, found a LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2018, and it was a function of strict bedtimes enforced by parents and their own indulgence in sports.
  • However, high-schoolers struggle in bed. A quarter of students in the age-group of 12-15 years and a half of 16-17-year-olds don’t catch enough winks.
  • Strangely, a large number of students – more boys than girls – feel they sleep enough even when they aren’t meeting the minimum sleep requirement.
  • Children reporting poor sleep quality went up with age – 4% for 12-13-year-olds and 16% for 16-17-year-olds. It’s more common among teenage girls.
  • The Well Spoken and the Canberra Sleeping Clinic says if children lose even 30 minutes of sleep, it can affect their intelligence and school attendance and may subject them to bullying.
  • Up to 66% of young Australians experience symptoms of insomnia, as per the findings of The Sleep and Mental Wellbeing Study, 2017.

Source: Sleep Health Foundation National SurveyAustralian Government Department of HealthLSAC Annual Statistical Report 

9. Sleep Among College Students & Millennials

  • A 2017 survey done at an Australian university revealed that 33% college students slept for less than 6.5 hours while almost 2/3rd reported a perception of not getting sufficient sleep.
  • However, a 2018 Philips Global Sleep Survey found that millennials in Australia are getting more sleep than the 25+ age-group – 7.2 hours vs 6.9 hours.
  • Australian millennials are more likely to feel guilty about not maintaining good sleep habits compared to the 35+ age-group – 35% v 26%

Source: Cross-Sectional Survey of Sleep Practices of Australian University Students, Philips 2018 Global Sleep Survey

10. Sleep among Men vs Women

  • As per the YouGov 2018 survey, Australian men sleep faster than women (13% vs 7% ) and Australian men have better sleep quality than women (41% vs 33%).
  • Frequent, loud snoring is more common in Australian men than women (24% vs 17%), according to the 2016 Sleep Health of Australian Adults report.
  • OSA affects men four times than women – 12.9% vs 3.7%.
  • Women were more likely to have sleep disorders associated with daytime sleepiness, 49% vs 36.9 %, researchers at the SleepGP clinic found between 2013 and 2015.
  • According to the 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australia Adults, more Australian men have nodded off while driving than women (22% vs 17%), more Australian men have fallen asleep at work than women (21% vs 13%), more Australian men will consume alcohol to help them sleep (21.1% vs 15.1%) and more Australian men supplement their night-time sleep with naps than women do (44% vs 36%).
  • On the same survey, more Australian women reported late to work because of lack sleep than men (21% vs 14%). Plus, women are nearly 50% more likely to use over-the-counter remedies and nearly 70% more likely to self-treat with other remedies than men.
  • Both Australian men (22%) and women (27%) report missing social activities due to sleep deprivation.
  • 20.1% men and 26% of women have lost sleep due to partner’s sleep problem.
  • Australia women worry about getting a sound sleep more than men – 31% vs 21%. They also get more overwhelmed by thoughts in bed – 35% vs 25%.

Source: Sleep Health Foundation National Survey, YouGov AU 2018 Report. SleepGp Clinic

11. Social Jet Lag

  • Every 3rd Australian suffers from Social Jet Lag, an extreme form of fatigue caused by a gap between your social and biological clock.
  • According to a 2016 study conducted by The University of Adelaide sleep specialist Robert Adams, 31% of Australians experience more than an hour of social jet lag — meaning their sleep routine is out of tune with their body’s natural sleep clock by an hour.
  • Some full-time employees have it worse – they suffer from two hours of social jet lag.

Source: National Sleep Health Study, Sleep Health of Australian Adults in 2016

12. Sleep and technology

  • More than 28% of 12 to 13 year-olds and 27% of 14 to 15-year-olds in Australia with internet access in their bedrooms did not meet sleep guidelines, as per the Growing Up in Australia Longitudinal Study of Australian Children 2018 Annual Statistical Report.
  • 13.8% Australian adults wake up two to three nights per week to use technology while 12.7% report using one night per week, the Sleep Research Society found.
  • Technology users are more likely to be younger, employed, experience financial stress, and speak English as a second language.

Source: LSAC Annual Statistical Report, Sleep Research Society

13. Sleep Temperature

  • 29% Australians could not sleep because of summer heat, according to a 2019 study commissioned by Nature’s Own.
  • The resulting thirst had 58% Aussies wake up at night to use the toilet.
  • General concerns about climate change stole the winks from 10% of the Australian population.

Source: Nature’s Own Australia Sleep Report

14. Sleeping styles

  • 55% Australians like sleeping on the side, according to a 2019 Ecosa survey.
  • 23% Australians prefer the freestyle sleeping.
  • Back sleeping came third, followed by stomach sleeping.

Source: Ecosa Mattress Survey 2018

15. Efforts to improve sleep

  • About 40% of Australians realise that a bad night’s sleep impacts concentration, motivation, and mood.
  • According to the 2018 Philips Global Sleep Survey, 63% of Australian adults were actively taking steps to improve their sleep.
  • 21% listened to soothing music, 18% set a bedtime/wake-up schedule and 18% were likely to use prescription sleep drugs.
  • Cut to the 2020 Philips Global Sleep Survey – 33% Australians watch TV and 31% have cut down caffeine to fall asleep.

Source: Philips 2018/2020 Global Sleep Survey

16. Sleep and Mattress

  • Australian mattress market is poised to grow by a 3.5% CAGR by FY 2023
  • Rising demand for customised mattresses for camping, better sleep and easing orthopedic issues are key drivers, cites the Australia Mattress Market Outlook to 2023 report done by Ken Research.
  • According to the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, a new mattress reduces back pain by 48% and improves sleep quality by 55%.
  • Online mattresses have fuelled the popularity as customers can review, order, buy and/or replace a mattress at the click of a few buttons.
  • Increasing demand for temperature-controlled mattress and self-cleaning mattresses in expected in the future.

Source: Ken Research

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