A bipartisan parliamentary inquiry into the sleep health of Australians has been conducted, showing that going without sleep can have major health and safety implications.
The findings of the National Inquiry into Australia’s Sleep Health in Australia, conducted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport, endorsed the Sleep Health Foundation and the Australasian Sleep Association’s four-year campaign to have sleep placed as the third pillar of health, alongside diet and exercise.
Statistics show four out of 10 Australians get insufficient sleep either daily or on several days a week. Lack of shut-eye is known to affect mood, energy levels, productivity, weight and the likelihood of developing serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. It can also have safety implications in the workplace.
The inquiry made 11 practical recommendations on ways Australia can drastically improve its sleep health, including fully funding a critical education campaign on sleep health awareness.
Sleep Health Foundation Chair, Professor Dorothy Bruck said the inquiry report was a watershed moment for the field.
“The report stresses the importance of people realising that making do without enough sleep is not a badge of honour or a sign of ‘toughness’, but that ongoing inadequate sleep can have serious health consequences and major safety implications,” Professor Bruck said.
It was revealed in a 2017 report conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, on behalf of the Sleep Health Foundation, that the direct financial cost of poor sleep health is currently estimated to be $26.2 billion annually. Of even greater concern, in 2016–17 inadequate sleep was estimated to contribute to 3017 deaths in Australia.
Professor Bruck said the 11 recommendations were a call to action and addressed a broad range of priorities and concerns raised in public hearings and 138 submissions from patient groups, medical organisations and health experts. Importantly, the report recognised the need for a change in attitudes in how Australia, as a nation, viewed sleep.
The full inquiry report can be viewed here.
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