Australia has become nation of nappers

Research suggests more than 20 per cent of Australians take several afternoon naps each week.
Research suggests more than 20 per cent of Australians take several afternoon naps each week.

Working from home has brought Australians an unexpected luxury: the afternoon nap.

Almost half the nation is taking a siesta at least once a week, according to a new survey by sleep health company Resmed.

More surprisingly, about 60 per cent of those kipping once daily are in the prime employment age bracket of 18-44.

With people eager to return to normal and head back the office, those who've become accustomed to the comforts of working from home will no doubt have to make some adjustments.

One, it would seem, is changing sleep routines to manage the morning commute and to cope without an afternoon nap.

Carmel Harrington, who has a PhD in sleep medicine and written two books on the subject, says going back to the office for some will be somewhat of a shock, even if it's just a few days a week.

"We call it social jet lag," she said.

"It's when your body has to deal with two different sleeping patterns and the effects can feel remarkably similar to real jet lag."

Dr Harrington says the scenario is typical of weekend lie-ins affecting weekday wakefulness but might now become something caused by working from home as well.

The findings of ResMed's national survey of more than 2000 people in September suggest Australians' sleeping habits have changed since the pandemic began.

Some 22 per cent of respondents said they had been taking naps multiple times each week, while 23 per cent admitted they had fallen into the habit of going to bed later and getting up later.

More than one in three rated their sleep as poor or very poor (38 per cent), while 26 per cent said they were less productive at work after a bad night's sleep.

Twenty seven per cent revealed they have become more reliant on coffee and other caffeinated products after not sleeping well.

"Establishing a sleep routine in line with our work and daily commitments as we start to go back to the office is vital," Dr Harrington said.

"It's not hard to rectify, you just need a little discipline. And it's a good idea to plan ahead."

The trick, she says, is for workers to begin waking in time to get to the office a week before they're scheduled to return to office duties.

Doing this should bring their go-to-bed, sleepy time forward and allow them to naturally fall asleep earlier.

It's also a good idea to start limiting daytime naps, especially if they are affecting the ability to sleep at night.

Australian Associated Press