A survey by the Sleep Health Foundation has revealed Australians go to sleep at 11:34pm and wake up at 06:32am on average, achieving a grand total of 7 hours 18 minutes of sleep.

People aged 18-34 slept steadily through the night, clocking an average sleep time of 7 hours and 37 minutes – an extra 48 minutes more than those aged 55 and over. Meanwhile, those in their 50’s woke up the earliest at 6:06am and took 10% more naps during the day. They also had a more restless sleep during the night and generally slept less than the younger generation at 6 hours 50 minutes on average.

The same study shows we tend to consume more caffeine, alcohol and sleeping pills as we get older. We also nap more with age, but sleep less and have more disturbances during the night.

So how much are we consuming drink wise and how is this affecting out sleep?  87% of us drink caffeine and 34% of us drink alcohol during the day, with the consumption percentages increasing with age. Australians in the 18-34 age bracket would have 1.5 espressos, while those aged 55 and over have 2-3 espresso shots. The percentage of those who drink alcohol on a daily basis varies from 19% among the 18-34 year olds to 51% in the 55+ age group.

When it comes to napping, 13% of us love a quick kip! This number also increases with age, from 11% of the 18-34 year olds to 22% of those aged 55 and above. And while only 3% of those surveyed reported sleep disorders, 79% complained of sleep disturbances. 7% of us needed to take a pill to get to sleep, with the overall percentage ranging from 3% (18-34) to 15% (55+). It’s apparent that the older we get, the more exhausted we are.

As we age, we should begin to drink less coffee and alcohol. ‘Going off the sauce’ and cutting down on stimulants in general is more beneficial than you think – especially when we want a healthy amount of sleep during the night. There are also plenty of natural stimulants that do a great job of picking you up in the morning, so you might think of giving the coffee machine a rest.

Sleep Infographic

Just before bed

Living in a gadget-friendly, information-saturated society, we often take technology to bed with us. According to the Sleep Health Foundation’s study, 45% of Aussies use a phone or a tablet in bed before sleep and 30% don’t put their phone on ‘silent’ in the bedroom. However, electronics emit “blue light”, which according to Harvard Health is harmful as it agitates your nerves and renders you sleepless.

If you can’t detach from your device, use the following checklist to make sure you get enough sleep:

  • Make your sleep a priority
  • Get out of the habit of being on your phone or tablet in bed
  • Put your mobile phone on a ‘do not disturb’ setting before sleep
  • Set up your phone to allow emergency calls from family members to get through
  • Turn the TV and any other devices off.

During the night

Given our love of coffee, alcohol, smartphones and tablets, it’s hardly surprising that 66% of Australians experience nighttime disturbances, with women generally having broken sleep more often than men. And while toilet trips comprise the majority (36%) of those disturbances for us, intense thoughts amount to 21% of the whole number, with discomfort and noise respectively making up the other 16% and 14%.

When you are awake at night, the secret is to make your thoughts as neutral as possible. Try to stop yourself from plotting revenge on your boss or trying to plan your next dinner party or house move. It’s better to count those sheep and give your brain a rest.

What can we do to sleep better?

  • Get into a regular sleeping pattern
  • Aim for 7-9 hours’ of sleep
  • Abide by the ‘no coffee before bed’ rule
  • Limit your alcohol intake and try not to drink before heading to bed
  • Try and get an hour’s rest before sleep
  • Ditch the cigarettes
  • Get out of the napping habit
  • Exercise – this naturally helps you fall asleep fast
  • Don’t go to bed feeling starved or stuffed
  • Get some sun during the day
  • Cut your fluids intake before bed
  • If your sleeping problems persist, see your doctor.
  • Don’t go to bed feeling starving or stuffed
  • Get some sun during the day
  • Cut your fluids intake before bed
  • If your sleeping problems persist, see your doctor.

The cost of poor sleep

Lack of sleep can give us more than just bleary eyes. It was revealed by the Sleep Foundation study that 10,000 serious injuries in the workplace, and 25,000 on the road were caused by a lack of alertness, due to poor sleep habits.

Possibly the most confronting thing about these accident statistics is that no one is immune to having a bad night’s sleep. However, you can give yourself peace of mind by taking out health cover. With us you can compare private health insurance from some of Australia’s top providers in just minutes.

If you are already satisfied with your current health cover, you can also consider taking out a standalone ambulance policy. Compare ambulance cover with us today and give yourself peace of mind.