National campaign to get Australians sleeping better gets government support
One of the eleven recommendations from the recent federal Sleep Health Awareness Inquiry specifically calls for a national campaign to make the nation sleep better.
‘We need this campaign to be funded.’ Professor Dorothy Bruck Chair of the Sleep Health Foundation said today. ‘Better awareness plus changing behaviors around sleep health is vital to improving the wellbeing of the 40% of Australians who have inadequate sleep.’
The Inquiry’s report (called Bedtime Reading) recommends that the Australian Government, in partnership with the states, territories and key stakeholder groups, work to develop and implement a national sleep health awareness campaign. The campaign should:
• Promote sleep as the foundation of ensuring positive health and wellbeing outcomes in combination with nutrition and exercise;
• Provide practical information in relation to sleep hygiene and measures an individual can use to improve their sleep;
• Provide information on the symptoms, causes, and health impacts of sleep disorders and available medical support for sleep disorders; and
• Communicate that improved sleep health can reduce the risk of: developing a serious health condition, impaired judgement and mental functioning, and decreased productivity and performance.
• Consider the proposed education campaign developed by the Australasian Sleep Association and the Sleep Health Foundation as part of their 2019 budget submission as a solid basis and estimate of costs for such a campaign.’
Over the last few years the Sleep Health Foundation and Australasian Sleep Association, supported by other parties, have successfully lobbied the federal government to hold an inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness. The community response to the call for submissions was impressive, with 138 submissions and 30 exhibits being received. Hearings were held in Perth, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
As the Parliamentary Committee which wrote the report is a bipartisan committee, its recommendations are supported by the major parties. ‘As the Minister who asked for the Inquiry, Hon Greg Hunt, continues in the new Parliament as Health Minister, we anticipate his enthusiastic support for sleep health will continue to deliver positive outcomes for the community.’ said Professor Bruck. “Minister Hunt seems to deeply understand the important link between overall wellbeing, including good mental health, and sleeping well.’
Significant resources will be important for the campaign. We need to ensure that people not only become aware of how vital sleep is to their overall mental and physical health, productivity and safety but actually change their sleep/wake behaviours as well.
It is important that the campaign has children and adolescents as one of its main target groups as all the latest research shows this group to be at high risk of inadequate sleep. ‘This may be contributing to the poor mental health we see in many students today.’ notes Professor Bruck.
The report from this Inquiry was tabled at the eleventh hour- just before the last Parliament rose and the May federal election was subsequently called. The report’s full details are Bedtime Reading - Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness in Australia, produced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport, April 2019 and is available on the internet.
About Sleep Health Foundation
The Sleep Health Foundation is Australia’s leading advocate for sleep health. The Foundation aims to improve people’s sleep and their lives by promoting healthy sleep, raising awareness of sleep disorders and building partnerships with organisations. Free, independent, expert-reviewed fact sheets on every aspect of sleep are available at www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au.
About the Australasian Sleep Association
The ASA is the peak scientific body in Australia and New Zealand representing clinicians, scientists and researchers in the broad area of Sleep. Our vision is the provision of world standard research, education and training, and establishment of clinical standards to ensure clinical best practice in sleep medicine resulting in an informed community with healthy sleep practices. More information is available at www.sleep.org.au.
For further information, contact on (02) 8814 8655.