It's a nightmare! Millions of sleep-deprived Australians wake up unrefreshed and spend their days feeling tired and grumpy.
And up to a third regularly struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, according to a survey of 1500 people featured in a Medical Journal of Australia article.
Timed to coincide with an Australasian Sleep Association conference in Brisbane, the article says daytime fatigue, sleepiness and irritability are common.
Most people are getting around seven hours of sleep, which is significantly less than recommendations.
"Sadly Australians do not sleep well," says association president Associate Professor Nick Antic.
"Part of it is obstructive sleep apnoea and insomnia. Part is work and daily living," he says, admitting his own lack of sleep from work pressure at the conference.
"Australians are restricting their sleep by going to bed too late, rising too early, or both. It's a first-world problem.
"People should be aware of the importance of good sleep for good health.
"We are getting an hour and a half less sleep than we were 15 years ago."
He pointed out that an 80-year-old might have slept 28 years of their life and that sleep is a key function.
"There are times when people talk about sacrificing sleep to get things done. The fact is people who do not get enough sleep are less productive," he says.
"There's more absenteeism at work. There's also more presenteeism, which is people who are at work but not functioning well."
Although there are people who do not need as much sleep as others, research shows 20 to 35 year olds would sleep for eight to nine hours if they had no pressures or distractions.
In Australia, this group is getting around 7.2 hours, according to the medical journal article. It says about five per cent of Australians have sleep apnoea.
There is also an increased risk of hypertension, cardiac disease and stroke, Prof Antic says.
"Added to the health costs of sleep issues are the costs related to lost productivity and accident risk," says Professor David Hillman, chair of the Sleep Health Foundation and lead author of the journal article.
"The combined cost to the community is $5 billion a year."
- Clifford Fram travelled to the conference courtesy of the Australasian Sleep Association