World Sleep Day Friday 19 March 2021 - Regular Sleep, Healthy Future
World Sleep Day is on Friday 19 March. This annual event highlights the importance of sleep health and encourages us all to prioritise sleep to improve our overall health and well-being.
Sleep is one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle alongside healthy eating and regular exercise. Sleep disturbances may lead to poorer physical and mental health and are known to increase the risk of developing other chronic health issues such as heart disease, type 2diabetes, obesity, stroke, cancer and mental health conditions. Inadequate sleep is also associated with a reduced life-span.
Dr Moira Junge, a Health Psychologist and Board Member of the Sleep Heath Foundation (SHF) said, “Regular sleeping patterns are vitally important in ensuring an overall healthy lifestyle.
“Consistency is key, go to sleep at similar times most days to help maintain alertness during the daytime and assist you to sleep during the night. For those that struggle to have a regular sleeping pattern such as new parents, or shift workers that may alternate between day and night shifts, there are strategies available to help reduce the disturbances from these lifestyle factors.
“These include being aware of the importance of light and dark and their relationship to our body clock. We need dark conditions to optimise sleep and we want light conditions when wanting to optimise alertness. It is also really important to keep our stress, workloads and caffeine and alcohol levels to a minimum. Healthy sleep requires a prelude of a wind down period in which we prepare our brains and body for sleep,” Junge said.
Unforeseen circumstances can also affect established sleep routines and impact our health in ways we might not expect. With the widespread introduction of working from home due to COVID-19, many people experienced less light exposure on their daily commute, which in turn affects the body clock by not receiving the light/dark cues at consistent times. It is important to ensure you make an effort to get out in the daylight by factoring in outdoor activities to your daily routine.
The SHF has multiple resources such as fact sheets, and sleep tips available for individuals who are wanting to improve their sleep and health.
Spokespeople available for interview about the importance of regular sleep and how to achieve it include:
- Prof Shantha Rajaratnam (Chair, Sleep Health Foundation)
- Prof Darren Mansfield (Deputy Chair, Sleep Health Foundation)
- Prof Dorothy Bruck
- Dr Moira Junge
- Dr Gemma Paech
- Dr Alex Wolkow
About the Sleep Health Foundation:
The Sleep Health Foundation is Australia’s leading advocate for healthy sleep. It aims to improve people’s lives by promoting sleep, advocacy and raising awareness of sleep disorders. For more information visit www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au.
For more information or to arrange interviews please contact:
Tracy Routledge on 0412 223 221 or
Suggested Talking Points
- Sleep is essential for optimal mental and physical health across the lifespan.
- Improving sleep, as it is a major pillar of health, and can have a significant impact across many aspects of society.
- Of the 40% of Australians who have reported that they have inadequate sleep, half of the problems were due to an underlying sleep disorder and half are due to not prioritising sleep.1
- Sleep deprivation was linked to 3,017 deaths in 2016-17. There are 394 deaths a year from falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle or from industrial accidents due to lack of sleep. The remaining deaths are heart disease and diabetes deaths linked to sleep disorders. 2
- A healthier future could include occupational health and safety regulations that reduce circadian rhythm disruption from shift work and fatigue from excessive work hours - possibly including restrictions on driving without adequate sleep beforehand. 3
- A healthier future could include building design standards that increase natural light to optimise circadian rhythm regulation.4
- The Sleep Health Foundation wants to see more education about the benefits of switching away from blue light on screens at night.
- In 2020 The Sleep Health Foundation celebrated 10 years of promoting the importance of sleep.
1-4. Asleep on the job: Costs of inadequate sleep in Australia, Deloitte Access Economics, 2017
Overview and link to Key Finding Summary