sleep awareness, world sleep day, sleep awareness week, better sleep, better learning

Sleep awareness will be in the spotlight this year with three major events taking place in Australia.

World Sleep Day

While most sleep disorders are treatable, only about a third of sufferers seek professional help, according to World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM). With so many people suffering silently (and not so silently), World Sleep Day on March 18 raises awareness of the physical and mental benefits of quality sleep.

It’s a call to action that will help prevent and manage sleep disorders. This year’s slogan, ‘Good Sleep is a Reachable Dream’, is very apt.

World Sleep Day focuses on a range of sleep disorders, including sleep apnoea. The three pillars to quality sleep – duration, continuity and depth – require continuous regular breathing. Sleep apnoea has been identified as a pervasive and common sleep disorder that affects a significant portion of the population.

While it’s easy to minimise the impact of sleep problems, it must be remembered that sound sleep is essential for mental health. In some cases, failure to act can lead to anxiety, depression and memory problems. Click here to find out more about sleep apnoea test and diagnosis.

If you’re suffering from broken sleep, World Sleep Day is the perfect opportunity to seek advice from your dentist or sleep specialist.

Visit www.worldsleepday.org 

Sleep Awareness Week

The health benefits of sleep and its importance to safety in the home and workplace will be highlighted during Sleep Awareness Week 2016. Running from Monday July 4 to Sunday July 10, it will raise awareness of the direct link between quality sleep and a healthy lifestyle.

This annual event was started by the US-based National Sleep Foundation which uses the opportunity to run polls looking at sleep and the modern family. Past polls have covered topics such as Sleep and Pain, Technology and Sleep, and Adult Sleep Habits. The full list of polls and its results can be found at sleepfoundation.org/sleep-polls

Last year, Sleep Health Foundation used Sleep Awareness Week as an opportunity to conduct a survey of Australian adults to discover which factors are helping and hindering their sleep. Over 1000 people were polled and the results offer a fascinating insight into Australian sleep habits. Some of the finding were:

  • On average, we go to sleep at 11:14pm and wake at 6:32am achieving 7 hours and 18 minutes of sleep
  • Despite the well-known negative impact on sleep, older adults drink the most caffeine and alcohol prior to bedtime
  • It’s well known that the blue light of smartphones, tablets and computers suppresses a sleep promoting hormone. Despite this, 45% of people use an electronic device in bed before sleeping
  • In addition, 30% of people have a phone by the bed that’s not in silent mode during the night
  • While it’s quite normal to wake briefly several times during the night, 66% of people experience disturbed sleep. The four main reasons were toilet, discomfort, noise and thoughts.

For more information on Sleep Awareness Week’s events and advice, visit www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au.

Better Sleep. Better Learning

Up to 40% of Australian children experience sleep problems. That’s why the Australasian Sleep Foundation has organised a conference in Melbourne on March 5, titled Better Sleep. Better Learning: A practical guide for teachers and school counsellors to improve sleep health in students.

The target audience is late primary and early secondary school teachers. These education professionals are perfectly placed to identify the changes in mood, behaviour and academic performance that can result from common sleep disorders.

While there’s a wealth of information available about diet, exercise and healthy lifestyles, there are scarce resources available in regard to sleep education. This conference will address that imbalance by providing education professionals with the skills to help students improve the quality of their sleep. This will, in turn, lead to improved health and better academic results.

Some of the major areas to be discussed are:

  • the most common sleep disorders in children
  • how to recognise sleep disorders in the classroom
  • the impact of poor sleep on mood, mental health, behaviour and learning
  • how to address sleep problems with students and parents.

For more information and educational material on March 5, visit www.sleep.org.au.