Though we tend to focus our attention on problems occurring right here in the United States, there may be some comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our need for more rest. Industrialized countries around the world are raising the alarm about the need for more sleep, and the latest among these is Australia.
A survey of 1,500 Australian people conducted by the Sleep Health Foundation in Australia has determined that up to 45 percent of that country’s adult population totes their electronic devices into bed with them, and anybody who has studied insomnia and sleep deprivation knows that this is a big no-no. Electronic devices have been deemed to be overly stimulating both in terms of content and in terms of the particular type of light ray that the gadgets emit, which fools the brain into thinking that it is daylight and shuts down its production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
With this high a number of people admitting to using their tablets and smart phones in bed, it’s a wonder that there aren’t more people suffering from sleep deprivation than the somewhere between 25 and 30 percent of Australians that have said that they have a problem. The sleep habits that Australians are adhering to are making the problem worse, and if they don’t make adjustments the country’s percentage of sleep deprived individuals is only going to increase.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation’s psychologist, Dorothy Bruck, the study’s conclusions mean that not only aren’t people turning off the electronic devices before bedtime as they should, but the fact that they are actually bringing them into the bed means that they are definitively holding blue light rays up close to their faces, setting off a damaging cycle that can throw the body’s circadian rhythms completely out of whack. “The blue light is a problem when it comes from electronic devices held closely, although it is not so much a problem with a television across the room,” she said. “But what we do find is that if people are regularly falling asleep with the TV on, they actually lose their ability to self-soothe, so when they wake up in the middle of the night they might not be able to get back to sleep.”
According to research done around the world, people are generally getting less sleep than they once did, and on the Australian continent that is translating into people getting about one hour less sleep than they need. The recommended amount of nightly sleep in Australia is 8.25 hours, and most people are getting just 7.3 hours. “If people are poor sleepers and they regularly have fragmented sleep they do have a higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Bruck stated. “Having less than seven hours has been linked in some studies with a greater chance of being overweight or obese.”