Older Australians are invited to participate in the new Big Sleep Survey throughout the month of August, to help researchers gather more information about the sleeping patterns of the population.
The survey, conducted by Centre for Integrated Research and Understanding of Sleep (CIRUS) at the University of Sydney in partnership with ABC Science, will attempt to fill current gaps in Australian data regarding sleeping habits and sleep disorders.
Sleep psychologist, Associate Professor Delwyn Bartlett, said that although the survey will provide researchers with details relevant to the entire nation, it will also focus on specific age groups such as seniors.
“We don’t have a lot of Australian data on sleep,” said Associate Professor Delwyn Bartlett.
“A few smaller studies have been done in some areas such as insomnia, but not one has taken an overall view on sleep practices in Australia. So this is a great way of doing that.
“Generally there also isn’t a lot of information on older people and their sleep patterns.
“But what we do know is that your sleeping patterns reflect aged related changes in general…And deep sleep is reduced with increasing age.”
Associate Professor Delwyn Bartlett said that the survey will seek information regarding how many hours older people spend in bed?; how many hours they actually sleep?; do they leave their phones on all night?; what time do they get up; and how much exercise do they do?
“We will also be looking at timing of sleep in older aged groups. Some people who live on their own often go to bed early in winter. They have adequate sleep but it is at the wrong time (too early) and they wake around 1-3am with a long lonely night ahead.
“Instead, they need to do things in the evening, like gentle exercises whilst sitting down, and be exposed to bright light later in the afternoon or early evening.”
Information collected via the survey will be disseminated to the community once the results have been examined.
Spokesperson for the Big Sleep Survey, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, said: “We’re all too busy these days and we get so much information coming at us from everywhere about how we should live our lives – what to eat, how to exercise, what hazards to avoid.
“But scientists need to know more about one of the most important things in our lives – sleep. Thirty per cent of your life is spent sleeping, if you don’t get it right it can have a serious impact on how you function every day.
“By joining the Big Sleep Survey you can help researchers find out more about our sleeping habits and maybe provide some insights to make sure we are all getting it right.”
Participation in the survey involves filling in a questionnaire about your sleeping habits, as well as a week-long sleep diary.
To visit the Big Sleep Survey website, click here.