The secret of a good night’s sleep

25 October 2017

When it comes to sleep, it's quality - not quantity - that matters most, a study of about 15,000 Australians shows.

A woman sleeping with her head on a pillow on a desk.

Aim for quality sleep, rather than quantity.

Despite oft-repeated calls to get eight hours shut eye a night, a new piece of research has concluded that it’s more important to ensure the sleep you do get is good quality.

Yu Sun Bin, a Research Fellow from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, partnered with researchers in Finland and Norway to analyse sleep patterns of 14,557 adult Australians collected as part of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) project. The team studied patterns in sleep duration and sleep quality and the associations with physical, emotional and social functioning.

“We found that poor sleep quality is linked to worse functioning regardless of how long a person has slept for,” Dr Bin said.

“In fact, people who sleep six or fewer hours functioned just as well as those who sleep six to eight hours, provided their sleep was of good quality.”

Those with poor quality sleep of eight plus hours had the poorest functioning overall, researchers found.

Co-researcher Nick Glozier, from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre, said: “This research shows that, more than anything, we need a good night’s sleep, not a long night’s sleep.”

“It’s worth reminding people of the top tips for getting a good quality night’s sleep – including ensuring a gentle pre-bed wind down, avoiding overuse of devices in the bedroom, a good bed temperature and a consistent bed time,” he added.

The findings were presented at Sleep DownUnder 2017, the annual conference of the Australasian Sleep Association, held October 25-28 in New Zealand.

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