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Australia becoming a sleep deprived nation of 'semi-somniacs'

Australia becoming a sleep deprived nation of 'semi-somniacs'

A new national Bupa Healthwatch survey shows that Australia is becoming a nation of sleep-deprived people with 51% saying they don't get enough sleep.

And now the health problems linked to the lingering after effect of chronic exhaustion have been given a name - 'semi-somnia'.

Long hours, work related stress and job insecurity were rated among the top factors contributing to Australians becoming 'semi-somniacs'. According to the Bupa Healthwatch survey, 44% of Australians say they come home from work feeling exhausted.

Bupa Chief Medical Officer, Dr Christine Bennett, said sleep-deprived Australians are more likely to worry about their overall state of health, weight and happiness than those getting enough quality sleep.

"Australians are paying a price for living in a 24/7 world in which sleep is the most likely casualty as people try to find the time to pack more and more into a day," Dr Bennett said.

"People tend to forget that sleep is the third dimension of health and wellbeing after exercise and a healthy diet. It is no surprise that more than half of Australians report that they don't get enough sleep."

Australians are not alone in their sleep deprivation. A British sleep expert, Dr Neil Stanley, coined the term 'semi-somnia' - a condition akin to insomnia - following recent research into UK sleep patterns. Those who take longer than half an hour to fall asleep, wake frequently during the night or too early in the morning are said to be classic 'semi-somniacs'.

The Bupa Healthwatch survey of 1200 people showed that, on average, Australians are getting just under seven hours sleep each night but 35 to 44 year olds - the peak mid-career group - get the least with 6.4 hours sleep on average.

The 51% of Australians who aren't sleeping enough blame the following contributing factors:
Work too much, work related stress, pressure, job insecurity, shift work
Too much to do, always busy, not enough hours in day
Poor sleep pattern, broken sleep, wake up frequently
Watching TV, online, computer, reading, studying
Difficult to relax, unwind, can't switch off

Those having less sleep were more concerned about their health and less likely to rate their health as excellent. Similarly, those sleeping more than seven hours are less stressed and report higher levels of happiness.

"Sleep experts recommend that adults get 7-8 hours sleep each night with teenagers needing up to 10 hours," said Dr Bennett. "Most of the body's growth occurs during sleep and adolescence is the time when teenagers growth is accelerated. With many students currently sitting their Year 12 exams getting a good night sleep is as important as last minute study.

"The message is loud and clear that getting sufficient quality sleep is vital for our health and wellbeing. Inadequate sleep and the chronic exhaustion of 'semi-somnia' are signals that we need to wind down properly and give sleep a chance."

About Bupa Australia
Bupa Australia is a leading healthcare provider. With a significant presence in every Australian State and Territory, the company operates under the trusted and respected brands, MBF, HBA, Mutual Community and Clearview, proudly covering over three million Australians.

Bupa Australia is driven by the vision of "Taking care of the lives in our hands" and has the goal of helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives. The company is focused on providing sustainable health insurance and financial services solutions that represent real value to customers, and on leading the industry in the promotion of preventive health and wellness.

As part of the international Bupa Group, Bupa Australia draws on the strength and expertise of an international healthcare leader. The Bupa Group covers over 10 million people in over 200 countries and provides other health and financial services to many more millions of customers around the globe.