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Sleep census provides wake up call on sleep quality – Sealy NZ

Auckland, 15 March 2024 – This World Sleep Day, Sealy NZ is once again lifting the covers on how Kiwis are sleeping, with new research revealing that 90% of New Zealanders believe our personal lives would benefit from better sleep.

As part of Sealy’s Global Sleep Survey that explores the sleep habits of over 20,000 people worldwide, Sealy NZ conducted a follow-on from its 2021 New Zealand Sleep Census, alongside Clinical and Sleep Psychologist Dr. Kimberly Falconer, with the aim to further understand how Kiwis are sleeping and to identify ways to improve sleep quality. [2: Conducted by Quantum Market Research (QMR) from 29 August – 21 September 2023 with 20,000 participants aged 18+ across New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan. Australia/New Zealand sample size n=5,865 with data weighted to be representative of Australia and New Zealand populations.]

“Ultimately the goal is to understand how Sealy NZ can empower Kiwis to sleep better,” shares Jenni Gaze, Sealy NZ Marketing Manager. “The Sleep Census helps us uncover and understand the issues many New Zealanders deal with daily. We’re dedicated to helping Kiwis improve their sleep through implementing good sleep routines to enhance their mental and physical wellbeing.”

The Sleep Census results revealed that while more than half (55%) of Kiwis are getting the recommended seven to eight hours sleep a night, a staggering 60% reported waking up feeling unrested at least five days a week. Troublingly, 1 in 10 Kiwis admit to never waking up feeling refreshed, with this number increasing to 1 in 4 Kiwis who work rotating/changing shifts.

“These results highlight the significance of understanding sleep efficiency – as a focus on sleep duration can unfortunately often miss the point,” shares Dr. Kimberly Falconer. “In clinical practice, rather than focusing on sleep duration we instead focus on sleep efficiency, which is essentially the percentage of time in bed that you actually spend asleep. So, although you might be sleeping over 7 hours a night, if you are spending 10 hours in bed to achieve this, it’s a problem that can put you at risk of insomnia.”

There are many contributing factors at play that make it harder for people to have quality rest, which begins well in advance of our head hitting our pillows- and from caffeine consumption to device use, some of New Zealanders’ pre-bedtime rituals are affecting our sleep quality, in some cases more-so than our global neighbours: Of the global markets surveyed, New Zealanders were the highest consumers of caffeinated drinks with 93% of us consuming at least one caffeinated drink daily (vs 86% of the global sample), with one in nine consuming their caffeinated drink in the hour before they went to bed. Device use before bed was higher in New Zealand than the global average (77%) with 83% of Kiwis reporting that they watch television either inside or outside the bedroom, or use an electronic device for entertainment prior to going to bed. Malaysia (84%) was the only country to top New Zealand for device use before bed.

Kiwis (48%) are also more likely than our Australian (39%) neighbours to use a device for social media/messaging before bed. The more often someone sleeps near their phone, the less likely they are to wake feeling refreshed and well-rested. This trend is troubling, with 65% of New Zealanders leaving their mobile phones close to their bed while they sleep. This statistic is much higher for under 25s (87%).

Once we’re settled in bed for the night, New Zealand’s most common sleep disturbance came from needing to use the bathroom (56%), followed by feeling too hot (30%), back/joint/muscle pain (22%) and their partner snoring (22%).

Women are 58% more likely to experience trouble with getting to sleep and staying asleep, data that Dr Falconer says corresponds to what she sees in clinical practice with woman being significantly more likely to present with insomnia than men. Unfortunately, the research results also revealed that women are more likely than men to have their lives affected by a lack of sleep, reporting that when they were tired they were more likely to not stick to their usual routine (20% vs 9%), not exercise (36% vs 22%), eat more/eat poorly (39% vs 15%), get irritable or snappy with coworkers, friends and family (32% vs 19%) and not be as productive as they would normally be (43% vs 24%).

“What this shows is that across the board, people believe that being tired is certainly leading to negative outcomes,” Dr. Falconer reports. “In terms of mental health, both men and women recognised the negative effect poor sleep has on their mental health and emotional wellbeing, although once again women reported higher rates of feeling anxious and depressed following periods of bad sleep.”

“Thankfully, sometimes the biggest problems can have the simplest solutions. While severe sleep disturbances may need professional intervention, sleep quality and wellbeing can be improved through establishing good routines.”

In addition to ensuring you have a quality bed that provides the correct level of support and comfort for you and your needs, Dr Kimberly Falconer shares her three key tips Kiwis can start right now to help reset their sleep: Stick to a regular wake up time and try not to vary this across the week or weekend. This helps to support a healthy circadian rhythm and biological clock. Regular mealtimes also support this. Try to ensure you are doing enough in the day to support a strong sleep drive. Regular exercise and activity, and the avoidance of daytime sleeping is key. Use light to your advantage to ensure your natural melatonin is optimal and supports good sleep at the end of the day. Get into the light as soon as you wake up and avoid light towards the end of the day. The caveman approach here is a principle we can somewhat hark back to. Artificial light is exactly that – artificial. So be mindful of limiting screen use and blue light in the lead up to bed, as it will inhibit your natural melatonin production and hamper your chances of a good night’s sleep.

While the gold-standard would be no screens/devices 1-2 hours before bedtime, in clinical practice we would help clients think about transitional steps that are more feasible to take in that direction.

For example, the first step might be putting your phone on silent and placing it across the bedroom rather than on your bedside table where it can be an easy distraction. Be mindful and sensible about not just the quantity and timing of the device use, but also the quality of what you are doing on your phone and the level of stimulation it is creating just before bed.

From fostering healthier bedtime routines to investing in quality sleep surfaces, it’s time for Kiwis to prioritise their sleep as a cornerstone of Aotearoa’s overall health and wellbeing.

If you’re one of the 16% of New Zealanders who have had their mattress for over 10 years, which is beyond the recommended lifespan of 8-10 years, start your sleep refresh by understanding what bed is right for you through the Sealy Bed Selector tool: https://sealy.co.nz/bed-selector/.

To discover more insights from the Sleep Census, visit https://sealy.co.nz/customer-support/nz-sleep-census-2024/.


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