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New study reveals a third of Kiwis are sleep deprived


15 FEBRUARY 2016

New study reveals a third of Kiwis are sleep deprived

• 35 – 49 year olds revealed as most sleep deprived

• Women suffer from poorer quality and quantity of sleep

• Stress, emotions and electronics noted as key sleep disruptors

New research delving into the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders has found that more than a third (35%) of Kiwis report not getting enough sleep, or that the quality of their sleep is compromised. Among those aged 35 to 49, the figure rises to 42%.

The study, released by Sovereign, revealed females were more likely to express dissatisfaction than men about the quality and quantity of sleep they’re getting (38% compared to 32%).

Dr John Mayhew, Sovereign Chief Medical Officer, says the value and health benefits associated with a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be underestimated.

“Sleep is critical to our health and overall wellbeing, impacting key areas of life, such as maintaining a healthy weight and a resilient immune function,” says Dr Mayhew.

The report shows that nearly half (46%) of respondents felt unhappy with their physical fitness and the same amount reported feeling dissatisfied with their weight. Thirty-one per cent were also dissatisfied with their physical appearance.

“The reality is poor sleep patterns can have a negative flow on effect, if you’re tired you’re less likely to prioritise exercise and healthy eating. If you sleep well you’ll feel both mentally and physically energised and alert and more likely to make better decisions about your health, including fitness and diet.”

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Dr Alex Bartle, sleep doctor and director of the Sleep Well Clinic, says there are a number of common reasons people may not be getting enough sleep.

“It might be that, in the short-term, you simply have a lot on. Stress is a well-recognised factor linked to a disrupted night’s sleep. It’s also important to understand how your daily lifestyle may be impacting your melatonin levels and sleep. Melatonin is produced by your brain and signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Exposure to bright light can supress melatonin while darkness promotes it.

“Developing a sleep routine is important. Try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day, even in the weekends. I also recommend turning your bedroom into a sleep-only haven; simply removing the TV and all electronic devices from the place where you sleep can work wonders,” continues Bartle.

According to Dr Bartle small lifestyle changes can vastly improve the quality and quantity of the sleep you are getting. These include:

1. Reduce alcohol consumption and the amount of food you eat before going to bed

2. Increase exercise but avoid late night exercise giving the core body temperature time to drop before bedtime

3. Make the most of the morning sunlight to supress melatonin. By suppressing melatonin in the morning it allows it to surge at night, signalling the body to prepare for sleep

4. Limit ‘snooze’ time in morning – set your alarm five minutes earlier rather than half an hour and make the most of the extra sleep

5. Try relaxation strategies like meditation, abdominal breathing and yoga to reduce anxiety and stress levels

6. Write down emotional concerns or worries on a piece of paper at least one hour before bed and then throw it away

7. Avoid electronic equipment including iPads, computers, phones and game consoles before bed – the blue backlight suppresses melatonin

8. Keep phones and clocks out of sight and out of reach, reducing the urge to check them throughout the night

Sovereign undertook the research to hone in on the health habits and trends of New Zealanders. As a leading New Zealand life insurer Sovereign has been taking care of Kiwis for the past 25 years and believes it has a key role to play in helping New Zealanders improve their health and wellbeing.


About the research

The research was conducted for Sovereign in 2015 with respondents weighted by age and gender based on Department of Statistics population estimates. The survey sample represents results gathered from 1,599 people aged 25-74 from across New Zealand.

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