A sleep expert says 30 per cent of people get less than six hours of sleep per night and that is having a huge impact on our health and productivity.

Sleep expert, Jennifer Ailshire from the University of Southern California, told Tim Dower as a population we aren’t getting enough sleep.

“On average the ideal amount seems to be somewhere between seven to eight hours sleep per night roughly but for each individual, it will vary. Some people can function on much less sleep than other and some people might actually require more sleep than that.”

“Anywhere from one-third to even more, depending on which group we are looking at, is not meeting that basic minimum threshold of nightly sleep.”

A lack of sleep is having a negative impact on our health and productivity, she said.

“Sleep is really important in a variety of health outcomes. Inadequate sleep has been linked to a higher risk of getting cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, those are health condition that will take some time to manifest but more immediately, we also know that when we don’t get enough sleep, we are more likely to have imparted immune functioning.”

“That’s an effect that can happen relatively quickly so what we will find is people are more likely to get sick and, of course, when people are getting sick they are more likely to take sick days off of work, so there’s some economic impact.”

“We know from prior research when people don’t get enough sleep they are more likely to have accidents so that might be roadway accidents or workplace accidents, so we might see an increase in accidents.”

She said stress and worry about work is keeping people up at night and contributing to bad sleep.

“There is a sense that you’re never away from work, that work is always in your life because it’s there on your phone, so your phone is dinging with emails or perhaps you have a work based chat channel and people are on it a lot.”

“I’m getting the sense that people feel like they are not able to turn their minds off of work and we know from research that when we are laying in bed we tend to ruminate.”

“We think a lot about the things that have happened the day before or what’s about to happen in the next day, and if we are trying to fall asleep and we get a work email, that reminds us of workplace stresses or tasks that we have yet to accomplish, that might be the last factor that pushes us over the edge and prevents us from getting a good nights sleep.”

She said technology is also getting in the way of our sleep.

“People are a little more stressed and they are having more difficulty having enough sleep. We have this very technologically connected society, we are very connected to everything and everyone at all times, and that might also be interfering with peoples’ sleep.”

Source: Newstalk ZB

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