Featured News Poor sleep more common for Indigenous people

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Tue, 8 Feb 2022

Poor sleep more common for Indigenous people


A new study suggests sleep disorders in Indigenous Australian are more common than for non-Indigenous Australians and have worse effects.

Dr Yaqoot Fatima from JCU’s Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health and UQ’s Institute for Social Science Research was part of the team, that included Prof Sarah Blunden from Central Queensland University and Dr Stephanie Yiallourou from Monash University, that conducted the study.

“We know about the negative impact of poor sleep on the metabolic, cardiovascular, immune system and respiratory health. Poor sleep quality and quantity are also strongly associated with deficits in emotional, educational, neuropsychological, psychosocial health, well-being, and performance,” said Dr Fatima.

“Just over 20 per cent of non-Indigenous adults and nearly 35 per cent of Indigenous Australians report a high prevalence of unhealthy sleep. We define that as problems initiating and/or maintaining sleep, short sleep, disrupted or restless sleep or excessive sleepiness,” said Prof Blunden.

She said specifically, Indigenous Australians had high rates of sleep disordered breathing together with other indicators of poor-quality sleep such as snoring and sleepiness.

Dr Yiallourou said there is a lack of research into the sleep health of Indigenous Australians, with the researchers finding only nine studies, surveying just over 2600 people.

Dr Fatima said it was well-known that sleep health is a cornerstone of general health.

“The good news is that we know sleep health is modifiable. So, the prospect of improving sleep and subsequently improving downstream variables, including those chronic diseases related to poor sleep such as diabetes and hypertension, more common in Indigenous Australians, appears possible.”

All three researchers are members of the Indigenous Sleep Health Working Party of the Australasian Sleep Association.


Dr Yaqoot Fatima
E: Yaqoot.fatima@jcu.edu.au