Sleep problems are more common than you thought.
Sleep is considered to be one of the most important rituals that we have to partake in daily, failing which the consequences can be fatal. Just 24 hours without sleep can impair cognitive function equal to that of someone who is over the legal blood alcohol limit.
It is understandable that healthcare professionals place great emphasis sleep as an essential part of a successful health regimen. So, what are the statistics and how bad is the problem?
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, 33% – 45% of adult Australians currently suffer from sleep deprivation—or roughly one in three people—and at least 1.5 million have been diagnosed with sleep disorders across all age groups. Medical sleep conditions are also very common, with diagnosed sleep apnea affecting 8%, significant insomnia 20% and restless legs 18% of adults.
The Australian government spends more than $5 billion on sleep disorders each year. Moreover, a further $31.4 billion a year is spent on quality of life measures implemented to mitigate the harmful effects of sleep disorders. These include various associated conditions, lost productivity, informal care costs, and motor vehicle accidents and workplace injuries.
The Re-Awakening Australia report also revealed that sleep disorders are responsible for as much as 10% of depression, and roughly 5% of all strokes, workplace injuries and car accidents.
But what are sleep disorders, and when is it time to seek medical help?
Evidence has shown that poor sleep quality results in serious adverse effects, such as medical comorbidities and fatal accidents.
The most common sleep disorders are also the most well-known in general public discourse: Insomnia, Sleep apnea, Restless legs syndrome (RLS), and Narcolepsy. Some of the lesser known sleep disorders include Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI), Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS), REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, and Sleep Paralysis, among many more.
While signs of tiredness and fatigue, both common and uncommon, might seem innocuous to most people, it is vital to encourage those who are experiencing some of these symptoms to seek professional medical advice.
There exists a great deal of research on the topic of sleep disorders, and as a result, healthcare practitioners can diagnose and treat most of these ailments effectively.