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Largest Sleep Survey Reveals Our Bedroom Secrets

Largest Sleep Survey Reveals Our Bedroom Secrets

New Zealanders are a restless lot – unless you live in Wellington

We Kiwis are certainly a restless bunch in the bedroom, unless you live in Wellington - the home of the nation’s best sleepers.

Throughout the land, almost half of us get up at night to use the bathroom and a massive 93% of New Zealanders wake up at least once every night.

These are among the findings of New Zealand’s largest sleep survey of more than 11,000 people, mostly women aged 25 to 54, commissioned by New Zealand’s largest bedmaker Sleepyhead.

“Considering how important sleep is and how much time we spend in bed, an awful lot of us are not sleeping that well,” says Sleepyhead general manager Chris Taylor.

While 52% say they get the recommended seven to eight hours sleep a night, much of that is broken sleep.

“Only 7% of us sleep right through the night, with the vast majority (65%) waking two or more times. Apart from needing the bathroom, tossing and turning wakes us up, as do aches and pains (46%) and your bed partner disturbing you (52%).

Taylor said there were some regional surprises in the survey results. “Who knew Wellingtonians were the best sleepers, that Northlanders are the most likely to need a bathroom break in the middle of the night or that South Islanders snore more than North Islanders?”

The findings include:
• 13% of us wake up every night and have difficulty getting back to sleep (with another quarter of us waking up most nights) but that rises to 17% in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty and drops to just 10% in Wellington
• While 22% of us get up every single night to go to the bathroom (and another 25% get up most nights), 28% of Northlanders are nightly bathroom visitors but only 18% of Wellingtonians
• One in five of us take 10 minutes or less to fall asleep while a third takes more than half an hour. Quickest to get to sleep are Aucklanders (17%) and Wellingtonians (18%) while the slowest are those in Otago and Southland, where 18% take more than an hour
• Single people take longer to get to sleep (18% an hour or more) compared to those with partners (12%)
• A high 46% of us wake up during the night due to aches and pains but that rises to more than 50% in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and the South Island. Wellingtonians are the least afflicted (39%). Backache, hip and neck pain, headaches and allergies are the main problems
• North Islanders are daily nappers, particularly those in Northland and Auckland, while few South Islanders hit the hay in the afternoon
• The majority of New Zealanders share their bed with a partner every night (60%) with pets the next most popular bed “partner” – 12% of us sleep with Rover or Tiddles every night
• Cantabrians are more pet friendly than most, with 16% sharing their bed with an animal each day, compared to just 10% in Auckland
• A third of South Islanders are woken by their partner snoring, compared to 26% of NZers overall
• About a quarter get woken by external noise but this drops to 18% in Otago and Southland
• More people in the North island – 55% - have TVs in their bedrooms compared to 44% in the South Island
• Computers in the bedroom are more common in Auckland and Wellington (26% each) compared to smaller towns in the South Island (9%)
• Mobile phones make it into more than half of bedrooms in the three main centres but only a third of the rest of the South Island
• About 9% of us manage to wake ourselves up with our own snoring
• 1% of us have a fridge in the bedroom

Taylor said one factor that should be taken into account when deciding on sleeping arrangements is the weight difference between partners.

“That differential can have a major impact on how well you sleep, particularly if the heavier partner is a restless sleeper,” says Taylor. “More than 40% of Kiwi couples have a weight difference of 20kg or more and, unless you have a bed with the right support, one partner can get woken up every time the other one rolls over.”

Most of us sleep in a queen bed – 61% - with king size the second most popular choice. More than a quarter of people sleep in beds more than 10 years old, which Taylor said could affect sleep quality as mattresses deteriorate with age.

Of the 68% who share a bed with their partner, half start off cuddling but then move to their separate sides while a romantic 3% say they snuggle up all night. Just 1.5% sleeps in separate beds although 3% say they sometimes sleep apart.

And, if you’ve always wondered whether your sleeping position is “normal’, relax. There is no normal – 28% favour the left side, 25% the right and 28% vary their position. About one in 10 likes to fall asleep on their stomach and just 8% on their back.

“The survey results back up something we’ve suspected for a long time, that the majority of people are failing to make the connection between their quality of sleep and their bed” says Taylor. “We spend on average one third of our lives in bed, so people should start to give more consideration to what they sleep on, thus allowing them to achieve a better sleep every night”.


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