Media releases

March 13, 2015

Sleep is the best medicine

Medibank pays out over $8 million for sleep-related claims on behalf of members

They say a good night’s sleep can cure a world of ailments. This World Sleep Day on 13 March, Medibank is encouraging Australians to appreciate the health benefits of getting enough quality sleep.

Dr Melissa Lehmann, Medibank Clinical Psychologist and Workplace Health Expert, believes that the importance of sleep cannot be underestimated:

“Our bodies need sleep in order to function properly, both on a physical and mental level. Getting enough quality sleep – about eight hours a night – improves concentration, mood, ability to function and alertness. It strengthens the immune system and reduces stress levels, and keeps blood pressure and cardiovascular levels in check. It even helps you lose weight, by regulating the hormones that control the appetite.”

Last year, Medibank paid out over $8 million on behalf of its members on sleep studies[i] - a process whereby a person’s sleep is monitored for sleep disorders. Over 10,000 members experienced a hospital admission for a sleep study, with the 60-64 years old age group being most common. Interestingly, the biggest growth in admissions was for the age group 10-14, which increased 30% on the previous year. This was followed by the 30-34 age group, which increased 19%. Men were more likely than women to participate in a sleep study, accounting for 63% of admissions.

Dr Lehmann says, “It’s important to get treatment for any identified disorders, such as sleep apnoea (where a person’s breathing is impacted during deep sleep), as they can have a range of effects such as increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other medical conditions.”

Data from Google searches further demonstrates Australian’s interest in sleep and sleep related conditions. On average each month:

  • 14,800 Australians search “insomnia”
  • 3,800 Australians search for “sleep apnoea”
  • 480 search for “sleep walking”
  • Only 10 search for “bad snoring”

Sleep walking was most searched for in Victoria, while sleep apnoea was most looked up in Western Australia and Queensland. Snoring was searched for evenly across the country.

Dr Lehmann’s top tips for getting a good night’s sleep are:

  • Set a regular bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night, choosing a time when you normally feel tired. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be tempting to stay up late.
  • Wake up at the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier bedtime.
  • Use the bedroom for sleep only. Keep the television in the living room or another part of the house.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine, and don’t eat a big meal right before bedtime. Your body will still be digesting, which will impact the quality of your sleep.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark. Try using earplugs and an eye mask.
  • Exercise gently early in the evening. This will help make sleep deeper and a nightly routine can signal to the body that you are preparing for sleep.

With so many fantastic health benefits, what more reason do Australians need to ensure they are getting enough shut eye this World Sleep Day!

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