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Kiwis urged to wake up to sleep issues

Kiwis urged to wake up to sleep issues

It’s World Sleep Day on Friday (13 March) and guess what? A high proportion of us are not getting enough sleep.

More than a third of New Zealanders feel they never get enough sleep. Optimum sleep hours vary depending upon age and health factors but fundamentally it seems we lead restless lives.

And who would have guessed? Teens actually do better than average in the sleep stakes with only around one-fifth of Kiwi youngsters not getting enough sleep. To put that in to perspective, it’s recommended that teenagers get nine to 10 hours a night. Perhaps unsurprisingly, on average teens also go to bed later in the weekends at around midnight than they do on school nights (10:30pm).

The findings arose during sleep issue discussions between Sealy Posturepedic and Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre, an independent research centre.

The research centre also reports that around 25 per cent of 4,000 New Zealanders surveyed report having sleep problems that have lasted more than six months. So why is sleep so important?

Dr Karyn O’Keeffe, Research Fellow at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre, says sleep is crucial for good health and optimal functioning.

“Studies highlight that sleep is essential for good health and proper functioning during the day with many processes in the body unique to sleep and cannot happen at any other time,” Dr O’Keeffe says.

“These include processes in the brain and other organs and also in hormone production. Interestingly, we bring together memories and enhance our capacity for learning during sleep. Plus our brains are flushed of harmful proteins that can lead to long-term damage.”

Generally, compared to individuals who get seven to nine hours sleep a night, those who get less than seven can have issues.

Dr O’Keeffe says these people have slower reaction times, are less coordinated, are less creative, make poorer decisions, have poorer mood, communicate less effectively and don’t get on as well with others. Research also shows we are often not aware of how impaired we really are.

“In the long-term, short sleep can lead to health problems and those who get less than six hours sleep each night have a higher risk of putting on weight, developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and suffering a stroke. They also have compromised immune responses,” Dr O’Keeffe says.

The good news is there are some simple antidotes to sleeplessness. Dr O’Keeffe has a list of five tips for getting better sleep:

• A safe place for sleep should be dark, quiet and comfortable in terms of bedding and temperature. Avoid bringing work and recreational things into bed with you.

• Even on weekends, a regular bed and wake time can be helpful in promoting good quality sleep.

• Avoid alcohol in the two to three hours before bed and caffeine five to eight hours before.

• Getting regular exercise can improve the quality of sleep and helps establish a good sleep routine. Exercising in the late afternoon or early evening is best.

• Avoid bright light just before bedtime – it can make it hard to get off to sleep when you want to. Keep laptops and mobile devices out of the bedroom too and if using them elsewhere, dim the screens.

Sealy NZ’s Jenni Gaze says it is also vitally important to ensure you have the right bed to get a good night’s rest.

“We are supporting World Sleep Day on Friday because it helps focus on the issues that can arise from poor sleep, which are substantial. The theme for the day – when sleep is sound, health and happiness abound – could not be more appropriate,” Mrs Gaze says.

Sleep facts[1]:

• 37 per cent of 10,000 New Zealanders drawn at random from the electoral roll feel they never or rarely get enough sleep.

• 30.1 per cent of Māori and 24.4 per cent of non-Māori report usual sleep of less than seven hours.

• 13.5 per cent of Māori and 7.9 per cent of non-Māori report usual sleep of at least nine hours.

• More Māori than non-Māori report symptoms of insomnia (study of 4,000 New Zealanders.

• 25 per cent of New Zealanders reported having a sleep problem that lasted more than six months.

About Sealy

Sealy is the world’s number-one bedding brand and the leader in innovation and quality. Sealy began in 1881 when Daniel Haynes invented a new process for making premium-quality mattresses in Sealy, Texas. For over 125 years, Sealy has invested in extensive research and development and has changed the way the world sleeps.

Sealy Posturepedic provides the most supportive mattress for everything you do in bed – so you can escape to the luxury of deep sleep every night.

All Sealy Posturepedic beds are designed in conjunction with the Orthopaedic Advisory Board (OAB) to ensure every part of the body is correctly supported during sleep. In addition, all Sealy Posturepedic beds come with a 10-year guarantee, so you can rest easy.

Visit for more information.

About the Sleep/Wake Research Centre


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