The Australian Government Department of Health has recently released a draft national preventive health strategy which aims to achieve a healthier Australia by 2030 by preventive health action. Among other things, they point to economic benefits if the health of people in fair or poor health is improved. The draft is now open for public comment. The Australasian Sleep Association and Sleep Health Foundation strongly urge you to consider making a submission.
Ensuring sleep health is prominent among the considerations in the strategy is important as it is likely that this will be a Department of Health roadmap, at least for several years. If it is not prominent here, sleep will be out in the cold for this time. While our own insights, strongly endorsed by the 2019 parliamentary Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness, might anticipate that sleep would be prominent within the draft strategy, sadly that’s not the case. Sleep is only mentioned twice among the draft’s 45,000 words: once in relation to physical exercise and once in relation to screen time recommendations.
The key focus areas for action outlined in the draft are:
- Reducing tobacco use
- Improving access to and the consumption of a healthy diet
- Increasing physical activity
- Increasing cancer screening and prevention
- Improving immunisation coverage
- Reducing alcohol and other drug harm
- Protecting mental health
Of course, healthy sleep is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle along with healthy diet and exercise (focus areas 2 and 3). Further, sleep problems compound the effects of alcohol consumption (focus area 6) and have a bidirectional relationship with mental health problems (focus area 7).
The absence of sleep as a focus area for action is a major omission, and we are writing to ask you to join us in ensuring this report is better informed regarding sleep issues. Specifically, we are seeking the addition of “Improving sleep health” as an eighth focus area for action alongside good nutrition (focus area 2) and exercise (focus area 3). It would be helpful where possible for your response to be on behalf of your organisation to provide extra authority to your words.
If you have any questions or would like further information, contact:
Both the Sleep Health Foundation and the Australasian Sleep Association will be making submissions. Please give this issue your urgent attention.