Aussies are losing sleep-and desperate times call for desperate measures, with some Aussies finding novel ways to drift off.
New research conducted with 2000 Aussies by Redormin, found that 78% of us are kept up at night by random thoughts, and two thirds of Aussies (65%) report struggling to stay asleep each night, so with World Sleep Day on March 18, it’s time to focus on fixing your sleep.
The Stats on Poor Sleep
Fear of the future is the most commonly reported (25%) reason why people can’t seem to drift off, one in five are concerned about money (20%), followed by 17% feeling troubled by work and relationships.
Women (51%), Gen Z (62%) and Millennials (47%) are the demographics who find it the hardest to fall asleep.
Sydney Sleep Coach Olivia Arezollo tells Yahoo Lifestyle there are a multitude of reasons Aussies are struggling to nod off.
"Stress levels are still reasonably high due to lockdowns and recent natural disasters affecting our country have also rocked us, and this is a major sleep saboteur," she explains. "Screen time is still quite high too, with many Aussies still working from home, which exposes them to high levels of blue light throughout the day, which can contribute to sleeping problems at night. In addition, due to our WFH conditions, many of us are sleeping in later and going to bed later than we know we should, however do so because we don't need to rush to the office in the morning."
However, the data also uncovered the various methods people use to help themselves to fall asleep, including calming apps, music, reading a book or even having sex!
Novel Approach To Falling Asleep
Whether you enjoy listening to a little smooth jazz or catching the latest episode of your favourite podcast before bed, nearly half (47%) of Aussies have taken steps to improve their sleep hygiene, with 20% using calming apps/music and 16% admitting to “distraction” techniques such as reading a book or having sex.
One in 10 Aussies believe they will sleep better if they can kick their partner out of bed and sleep alone, and one quarter (23%) of Aussies believe that their sleep quality would improve if they were able to reduce their screen time before bed.
Not so easy when you’re in the middle of a Disney+ binge-fest!
"Having sex is an interesting one," Olivia tells us. "I thought that was more for pleasure.. I guess I am mistaken!
"Reading is a great tool, something that I recommend in my bedtime routine, as research indicates it can reduce stress by 68 per cent, and the results begin in just 6 minutes! So, that is really no surprise."
The effects of bad sleep
According to the research, making poor decisions is something that is also caused by lack of sleep, aswell as reduced quality of life for 86% of us, with a third of Aussies (31%) claiming lack of sleep leaves them more irritable and anxious.
One fifth (20%) also feel like they just can’t function without sleep, and many even call in sick to work so that they can catch up on sleep – with one in five Aussies (18%) admitting to this.
Olivia says that when you understand the importance of sleep for physical, mental and cognitive health, these statistics make perfect sense.
“Firstly, lack of sleep impairs the frontal lobe, which is responsible for decision making, judgement, concentration, and attention - a key reason why The Australian Sleep Health Foundation has reported that 29% of all workplace errors can be directly attributed to fatigue, and a key reason why the Redormin research revealed that 1 in 5 Aussies quote unquote ‘can’t function properly’ when they haven’t slept enough.”
A University of Chicago paper also found that after only one night of poor sleep, the stress hormone cortisol increases by 37%, leaving you anxious, irritable and wired, which also explains why the third of Aussies in the Redormin study reported feeling these exact symptoms when they lost sleep.
Olivia’s Top Tips For A Better Sleep
If you’re still struggling to get some Zz’s despite trying to distract yourself from worrying thoughts and money woes, Olivia’s got you!
1. Reduce blue light
Light is our primary zeitgeber - the factor to control our circadian rhythm, and therefore, melatonin levels. As melatonin is the key sleepiness hormone, this means that it is one of the most important things you can support in order to maintain healthy sleep patterns. I recommend reducing your blue light exposure by limiting your use of devices and wearing 100% blue light glasses, at least two hours before bed.
2. Go to bed at the right time for your chronotype
Each chronotype (sleep type) has a specific bedtime that most closely aligns with their circadian preferences.
For example, Lions are early risers so they’ll go to bed at 10pm. Bears are slower to start their mornings and should go to bed around 10.30pm and Wolves (otherwise known as Night Owls) can stay awake ruminating for hours; so, they can afford to hit the pillow around 11pm. By adhering to this schedule, you are more likely to fall into deeper sleep when you go to bed - instead of tossing and turning for hours.
3. Read a book before bed - aloud
Stress is definitely a leading cause of what keeps us up at night – and can be felt as mild anxiety, a racing mind, ruminating thoughts and so on. And while reading is a great option to slow your mind, by reading aloud, you require more mental focus than reading to yourself, making it even more powerful for quietening a busy mind.
4. Take a naturally derived sleep supplement
Naturally derived sleep supplements can help you fall asleep faster and can improve the quality of your sleep. For example, clinical trials have shown that the naturally derived extract Ze 91019 has helped reduce time to fall asleep by 79% and restored healthy sleep patterns within 2 weeks. Speak to a healthcare professional who may be able to recommend a clinically researched sleep supplement that is right for you.
5. Have Sex
Sex leads to the release of hormones like oxytocin and prolactin, as well as lowers the stress hormone cortisol – all of which leave you feeling more relaxed. Understandably, lower levels of cortisol are clinically linked to higher sleep quality – so maybe it’s time to get your nookie on!
Olivia says that while the above tips can be helpful, if you are concerned about your lack of sleep and it is affecting your lifestyle, you should speak to a healthcare professional about the best pathway for you.
“If you are affected by anxious thoughts or notice significant changes to your mental health, consult a GP or psychologist.”
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