Oral Presentation 6th Australian Health and Medical Research Congress 2012

Sleep and the Public’s Health (#112)

Sarah-Jane Paine 1
  1. Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Wellington, NZ, New Zealand

Sleep is widely recognised as an important health outcome and determinant of health. Chronic sleep deficiency (i.e. inadequate or mistimed sleep) is associated with major health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, poor general health and premature mortality. Sleep deficiency can also impair neurobehavioral performance, increase subjective sleepiness and fatigue, increase the risk of having an injury-related traffic accident, and degrade mood. Thus, sleep deficiency can have enormous impacts on health, safety, productivity and quality of life for individuals and wider society. Increasing the proportion of adults who get sufficient sleep is one of 24 key objectives identified by the Institute of Medicine to improve the health of adults over the next ten years. Recent evidence suggests that there are significant ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities in the prevalence of sleep problems and disorders both internationally and in New Zealand. This presentation will provide an overview of a programme of research being conducted by the Sleep/Wake Research Centre (Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand) that has aimed to investigate the prevalence, risk factors and consequences of sleep problems in New Zealand adults. This programme utilises a public health approach focussing on indentifying inequalities in sleep health between Māori (the indigenous people) and non-Māori, adults and children, and recognising the role of the state in influencing the social determinants of health.This presentation will outline the rationale behind our programme and summarise how indigenous research principles have informed the design of our epidemiological studies. The main findings will also be discussed to illustrate how using this approach has increased scientific understanding and provided an evidence base to help develop services to reduce inequalities in sleep health in New Zealand. It will then explore some emerging areas of inquiry and consider how using a public health lens can begin to address some of the limitations identified in sleep health research.