One bed should really only be a place for sex and sleep, as TVs, smartphones and laptops in the bedroom can hinder quality slumber, a Hunter researcher says.
HMRI researcher Dr Gemma Paech, a senior sleep scientist at John Hunter Hospital, said the key to getting a better night's sleep often came down to consistency, some calm, tech-free time before bed, and creating a bedroom environment conducive to sleep.
Her advice comes as a new report released by the Sleep Health Foundation estimates that poor sleep costs Australia $14.4 billion each year in financial costs, with a further $36.6 billion in non-financial costs related to loss of well-being.
Written by Deloitte Access Economics, the report calculated productivity losses at $11 billion in 2019-2020 - mainly due to three major sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnoea, insomnia and restless legs syndrome. About one-in-10 Australians have a sleep disorder that can effect their health, well-being, safety and productivity.
But for those just generally prone to erratic or disrupted sleep, "social jetlag" and even some anxiety around how much sleep they are getting - or not, Dr Paech shared a few strategies that may help.
"Go to bed and get up around the same time each day, including the weekend," Dr Paech said. "When it comes to sleep, our bodies like a state of balance. The more regularity you have, the better."
Dr Paech said a healthy adult should aim for around seven-to-nine hours of sleep within a 24-hour period.
Anyone getting six or less hours a night is probably not getting enough. Those getting more than 9.5 hours may be getting too much, or may even have an underlying condition.
"It varies depending on age," she said. "Young children, adolescents and even young adults up to about 25 years, need considerably more than that.
"As we get older, over 65, some might not need as much - but the recommendation is still six-to-seven hours."
Dr Paech said naps should be limited to less than 30 minutes, and not too close to bed time to allow the body to accumulate "sleep pressure".
"The other thing with napping - don't get a little too comfortable," she said.
"Having a nap on the couch with some sunlight and sounds, rather than the bed where you can get a little too comfy and fall asleep for hours, might help to keep it short without impacting night time sleep.
"It's normal to have waxes and wanes in our sleep quality. It is when it becomes more than three or four times a week, frequently, when you might look at changing some of your sleep habits or going to see a medical professional for advice."
Dr Paech said the Sleep Health Foundation has some excellent online resources, but here are some of her key tips:
Originally published in The Newcastle Herald