Friday Flash Poll: What keeps you awake at night?

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Research released today shows that older Australians might toss and turn at night, but they’re more likely than younger people to bounce out of bed in the morning.

The report, released on World Sleep Day, found that people aged 65 and over are happier with their sleep patterns than younger people.

“We found that older people are not sleeping particularly well, but they have considerably less sleep-related fatigue and irritability than younger people,” says Professor Robert Adams, a sleep specialist with the Sleep Health Foundation.

“It’s positive to see that despite some pretty significant disruption older people are, on the whole, less bothered by a bad night’s sleep and wake feeling refreshed.”

A survey of 1011 Australians, 175 of whom were 65 or older, asked questions about sleep habits, sleep problems, work life, income, mental health and personal details like age, sex and education.

“We found more than half (52 per cent) of older people wake a lot in the night, compared to 40 per cent of younger people. They’re also more likely to wake too early (40 vs 33 per cent) and have just as much difficulty falling asleep at night,” Professor Adams says.

“But, and it’s a big but, how they feel about this sleep differs considerably from working-age people.

“A third wake up feeling unrefreshed, compared with 48 per cent of other people, and 61 per cent feel they get adequate sleep, compared to 47 per cent of those under 65.”

Professor Adams believes the relaxed retiree lifestyle could contribute to the results.

“My feeling is their daytime demands are lower in general,” he says.

“They’ve got less time pressure; less general stress and more flexibility so don’t feel as fatigued.

“[But] it’s also possible that older Australians have learnt to mask their sleep problem with caffeine, as results show 28 per cent have 4-5 caffeinated drinks a day. If that’s the case that’s nothing to celebrate.”

Prof. Adams said the take home message was a positive one.

“I think many people will be happy to know that increasingly tiredness and fatigue are not an inevitable consequence of getting older. In fact, your sleep can actually improve with age.”

He warned that overall however, sleep issues reported in the study were quite significant, and any older Australians with concerns about their sleep should speak to their GP or a sleep specialist.

Sleep Health Foundation’s Dr Moira Junge says a good night’s sleep is vital for looking after your physical, cognitive and emotional health as you age.

“We know from large-scale international studies that sleeping well in young adulthood and middle age reduces the risk of obesity and hypertension, protects against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, and has been associated with decreased rates of depression,” said Dr Junge.

“In fact, in some studies good sleep has even been shown to be associated with fewer signs of ageing in facial skin and better tissue tone.

“Getting your forty winks can help you feel better, be better, and look better too.”

Do you get enough sleep? How do you wake in the morning? What keeps you awake at night? Why not partake in our Friday Flash Poll and help us put together a larger sample to send to Sleep Health Foundation?

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What’s the secret to a good night’s sleep? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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23 Comments

Total Comments: 23
  1. 0
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    No idea, I sleep ok usually.

  2. 0
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    Sleep is so important. We are very worried about our daughter at the moment as she is having difficulty with sleeping properly.
    She has palpitations and other issues stemming from the palpitations.
    Unable to work at the moment and not getting any solutions although trying very hard to get a diagnosis.
    You don’t realise how important sleep is until you have someone with a debilitating sleep problem.

    • 0
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      Get her to see a Cardiologist. My daughter has palpitations, she suffers from inappropriate sinus tachycardia syndrome and does not sleep well.

    • 0
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      I had anxiety and palpitations for awhile when I was having digestive problems, try getting some good quality probiotics for her digestion and then look at diet. Read Anthony Williams book “Liver rescue” it explains a lot about heart and health issues and what you can do.

    • 0
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      Thanks Star Trekker and musicveg, will look into all that.

    • 0
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      We finally have a diagnosis which should have been obvious months ago as she ticks every symptom for hyperthyroidism. Hopefully, we can now get some help.

    • 0
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      Paddington that makes sense, you must get a hold of “Thyroid Healing” by Anthony Williams as soon as possible because if they put her on medication things could get worse, I had it too and they found nodules on my thyroid, but I did not end up going to the specialist, I changed my diet dramatically, giving up caffeine (no stimulants is best), sugar and salt intake and eating more raw fruit and veggies. Lemon juice first thing and celery juice on an empty stomach every day can do wonders too. All the best for your daughter, there is hope for healing. Check out Anthony Williams website for info while you wait for a book, order it from the library, my local library had it and then after I read it ended up buying a copy it was so helpful. Also keep in mind that any artificial fragrance, un-natural personal care, household chemical products, fumes, and pollution can make things harder so best to avoid as much as possible while healing.

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      Sorry, mistake in my post, it should have read “lowering sugar and salt intake”.

  3. 0
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    I don’t think there are any secrets to sleeping, you sleep or you don’t.

  4. 0
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    Of course the non-working are going to be less stressed about not having a good night sleep, not having to worry about being at work & perhaps killing someone if the stuff up at work would be a weight off the shoulders for sure! (not sure about anyone else but my workplace is dangerous at best of times, even worse considering it is rotating shift work & sleep is difficult thru the day for most of us at this job! It would be awesome to not have this pressure to ‘just sleep’when trying to sleep, especially during the daytime when I’m gonna be working nightshift for 12hr stints at a time driving heavy equipment/machinery!

  5. 0
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    Always find being intimate gets us a good night’s sleep.

  6. 0
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    Turn off ALL screens including the TV, darken the room (use blockout curtains if like me you sleep during the day), make sure the window is open to allow fresh air to enter, and relax!

  7. 0
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    Meditation for me works. I agree everyone is different . The usual key points such as switching off from technology before sleep

  8. 0
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    Meditation for me works. I agree everyone is different . The usual key points such as switching off from technology before sleep

  9. 0
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    I have always slept badly, and suffer from panic attacks. The only thing I’ve found that helps is to control the rate of my breathing.

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      Panic attacks is a sign of something not right with your nervous system, have you tried taking magnesium? Also read Anthony williams book “liver rescue”.

  10. 0
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    IF, and it is not often, I have trouble sleeping – I get up make a cup of hot milk and honey. Sit for a little while and then go back to bed and find I can get back off to sleep no worries. I also spray my pillow with a lavender spray,’lavender does really hep.

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