3. Jul, 2017

Sleep Awareness Week 2017

It is Australia’s Sleep Awareness Week (SAW) this week (3-10th July). SAW 2017 is a joint initiative between the Sleep Health Foundation and the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC). This year it will focus on the negative impact of shift work and how better scheduling and smarter lighting can reduce these impacts. The key message is; Better sleep = smarter, safer workplaces. Much like previous SAW’s the focus and key message isn’t directly relevant to people with Idiopathic Hypersomnia however data from our Sleep Health in Patients with Sleep Disorders Survey tells us that people diagnosed with sleep disorders including Idiopathic Hypersomnia are not sleeping anywhere near the recommended amount (considering their daytime sleepiness).

*25% report regularly sleeping 6 hours or less, and the majority do not nap during the day. All experience excessive daytime sleepiness.

*45% of all responders have microsleeps (briefly fall asleep without realising it) or unintentionally fall asleep during the day in settings not appropriate to do so (many experience both).

Hypersomnolence Australia's key message this SAW is; if you are struggling to stay awake during the day and you are regularly sleeping 6 hours or less in a 24-hour period you are at a significant risk to yourself and others. This is particularly the case for those of you that drive, operate machinery and who are responsible for the lives of others ie; parents, early education workers, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers as well as police and associated emergency services. Please discuss this with your doctor as soon as possible. 

Professor Shantha Rajaratnam leader of the Alertness CRC research program at Monash recognises that "impaired alertness due to sleep loss, sleep disorders and body clock disruption is a significant societal problem."  The Alertness CRC is "dedicated to reducing the avoidable burden of poor alertness on the safety, productivity and health of all Australians."

Facts from the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC):

- Almost 20% of Australian adults are sleeping less than six hours per night... The resulting economic and health care costs are enormous and cost Australia over $35 billion every year. There is a clear need to reduce this societal burden.

- Untreated sleep disorders lead to a several‐fold increased risk of occupational accidents and injuries and reduced productivity.

- Poor alertness has widespread effects on core brain functions: reaction time, decision making, information processing and the ability to maintain attention.

- Almost 10,000 serious workplace injuries and more than 25,000 serious injuries from road crashes are caused by poor alertness each year.

- Performance is reduced when alertness is impaired.  Poor alertness is endemic in modern society due to the combined effects of inadequate sleep and untreated sleep disorders.

For more information on the implications of insufficient and poor qualify sleep refer to the Sleep Health Foundation and Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC).
And for information "to help you stay alert, safe, and productive at work" check out the Alertness CRC's new website - "WorkAlert" 

HOW MUCH SLEEP DO WE REALLY NEED?

If you are a teenager or young adult you may be surprised. It is recommended that teenagers (14-17) sleep between 8-10 hours, however it may be appropriate for them to sleep as much as 11 hours. Young adults (18-25) are recommended to sleep 7-9 hours however, it also may be appropriate for this age group to sleep 11 hours. Older adults (26-64) are also recommended to sleep 7-9 hours, however it may be appropriate for this group to sleep 10 hours.

If you are not waking up refreshed or regularly feel tired and sleepy during the day (or when you should be awake and alert) it is helpful to see how you respond to different amounts of sleep. Try sleeping an extra hour or more each night for at least two weeks. If you do not feel any better see your doctor as soon as possible. Information about your day to day activities including sleep habits can help your doctor identify the underlying cause/s. The National Sleep Foundation (USA) has a great sleep diary you can use to track your sleep and daily activities. Click here to check it out.