Wake-up call to establish regular sleeping patterns

New research demonstrates that for almost one-third of the population getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep is out of reach.

The global study published in Sleep Health found only 15 per cent of people slept the recommended 7 to 9 hours for five or more nights per week and among those who did achieve an average of 7 to 9 hours about 40 per cent fell outside the ideal range.

“This is crucial because regularly not sleeping enough – or possibly too much – are associated with ill effects and we are only just realising the consequences of irregular sleep,” says Flinders University researcher Dr Hannah Scott.

“Clearly getting the recommended sleep duration range frequently is a challenge for many people to achieve, especially during the working week.”

The Flinders research group used sleep tracker data collected by an under-mattress sensor to examine sleep durations over the nine-month period in almost 68,000 adults worldwide.

Sleeping less than six hours on average per night is associated with increased mortality risk and multiple health conditions including hypertension, obesity and heart disease. Less than 7 hours and more than 9 hours of sleep a day has been linked to adverse health and wellbeing, including digestive and neuro-behavioural deficits.

“Based on these findings, public health and advocacy efforts need to support the community and individuals to achieve more regular sleep within the recommended range for their age,” says co-author Professor Danny Eckert, an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) leadership fellow and director of Sleep Health research at Flinders University.

“Given what we know about the importance of sleep to health, we also need to assist people to resolve chronic sleep difficulties and encourage all people to make sleep a priority.”