If you are struggling to fall or stay asleep, you are not alone. Many Australians suffer from sleep difficulties like insomnia and overall discomfort. These concerns can impact your productivity and wellbeing throughout the day. 

Discover science-backed sleep solutions in our guide to transform your bed into a sanctuary for rest and get back on track to a good night’s sleep.

How many people struggle to sleep?

We recently launched the results of our global Sleep Census, which found that 94% of Australians wake up feeling unrested. Of the 20,000 people we surveyed worldwide, an overwhelming number wake up at least once during the night. You may be interested to know how many more of our census respondents struggle to sleep.

There are many reasons why you might struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. Common sleep problems include temperature concerns, overall discomfort and underlying conditions like insomnia.

32% of people working regular business hours are not getting enough sleep

94% of Australians wake up feeling unrested

Only 8% of people worldwide wake up feeling refreshed every morning

Healthy sleep solutions

There are some scientific ways to improve sleep, starting with healthy sleep habits for adults, teenagers and children. These depend not only on your age, but also your occupation, health and lifestyle.

While it is important to strive for the right amount of sleep each night, you should also be giving yourself the best chance of achieving quality sleep that is restful and restorative.

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

The first and perhaps most important sleep habit is adhering to a sleep schedule. Your body’s internal clock responds to all manner of environmental stimuli, such as diet and exercise, daily routines, travel and stress.

Sticking to a sleep schedule with consistent bedtimes will help to regulate your circadian rhythm, which sends signals to your body to fall asleep at night, wake in the morning, and stay awake throughout the day. This natural process also regulates your immune system, hormones, cognitive function and overall health. You may also need to address your napping habits; napping too frequently or too late in the day can have a negative impact on your quality of sleep at night.

2. Create a restful environment

If you struggle to fall asleep, or stay asleep throughout the night, it may be worth investigating your bedroom setup and environment. Your sleep is easily affected by light, temperature, noise and overall comfort.

While some factors may be outside of your control, we have some steps to help create an ideal sleeping environment:

  • Choose a dark space
  • Lower the temperature
  • Minimise noise and disturbances
  • Maintain a clean, clutter-free space

1 in 3 people wake up at night because they feel too hot

1 in 2 people use their phones at bedtime and never wake up feeling refreshed

It is also important to move work and leisure activities out of the bedroom. Your bed should be a sanctuary just for sleep and intimacy. This concept extends to using phones or tablets in bed.

According to our Sleep Census data, 82% of people use a device before bed. The blue light emitted by devices can disrupt our natural sleep cycle and trigger mental stimulation. Many people will find it harder to fall asleep or rest peacefully, so we suggest ditching the devices before bed wherever possible.

3. Promote your comfort

In addition to curating healthy sleep habits, you should also invest in physical comfort. This is especially the case if you experience lower back problems while sleeping.

Disturbed sleep may be a result of an old or uncomfortable mattress, or a pillow that is not right for your sleeping position. Make sure your mattress offers the right amount of support and sufficient comfort to prevent tossing and turning.


Not sure which mattress is right for you?

Discover your perfect Sealy by using our personalised mattress selector tool.

Speaking on insomnia

Sleep psychologist Dr Hailey Meaklim provides her insights on insomnia, its causes and some tips to manage this sleep condition.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep problem characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up feeling unrefreshed despite having adequate opportunity for sleep. For example, you might spend 8-9 hours in bed, but you can only sleep for 5-6 hours. Around 33% of the population regularly struggles with insomnia.

34% of Australians report regular difficulties falling asleep

Insomnia can have a big impact on your productivity, from difficulty concentrating at work to memory problems and a lack of energy or motivation. 

Notably, 94% of young adults surveyed in the Sealy Posturepedic Sleep Census thought their productivity at work could benefit from better sleep. Addressing insomnia can have an enormous positive impact on your life and productivity. 

Why am I struggling to sleep?

There are many reasons why people experience insomnia, such as stress, international travel, and changes in routines or medications. Most people start sleeping well again when the stress goes away or their schedule returns to normal. However, for some, insomnia persists long after the original cause has subsided. This is often a sign of conditioned insomnia.

“When someone has insomnia, the bed becomes unconsciously associated with wakeful activities rather than sleep”

When someone has insomnia, they often spend a lot of time in bed awake. They spend their nights in bed thinking, worrying, using their phone, feeling frustrated, and tossing and turning. Over time, the bed becomes unconsciously associated with wakeful activities rather than sleep. 

A hallmark sign of conditioned insomnia is when a person becomes tired and sleepy on the couch whilst watching TV in the evening, but they feel alert and are unable to sleep when they get into bed.

Is there a science-backed solution for insomnia?

Stimulus control is a simple set of instructions to create a strong association between your bed and sleep. It uses conditioning principles to remove wakeful stimuli from the bedroom and replace them with sleep cues.

  1. Go to bed at night only when you feel sleepy. Many people with insomnia go to bed early because they feel tired or exhausted. But if you go to bed before you are sleepy (e.g., heavy eyes, unable to focus on what you are reading), you may take a long time to fall asleep.
  1. If you can’t sleep within around 20 minutes, take your wakefulness out of bed. We want your bed to be associated with sleep. If you can’t sleep, let go of trying and go to another room. Or if you have difficulty getting out of bed, you can choose to sit up in bed, ideally on top of the covers. Getting out of bed when you can’t sleep (or at least getting out of the sleep position) is the key to breaking conditioned insomnia. You might get up to read a book, do some mindful colouring, fold some laundry, or other low-stress activities. Be mindful to keep the light levels low so you don’t disrupt your circadian rhythms.
  1. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed. Don’t try too hard to fall asleep; just trust that your mind and body will sleep when it’s ready.
Woman waking up happy in bed

You may need to repeat some of these steps. For some people, insomnia has been present for months or even years, and it can take a few weeks to break conditioned insomnia.

Stimulus control has good scientific evidence supporting it, and it is a great place to start if you are experiencing insomnia. However, do seek help from a qualified sleep healthcare provider if your insomnia symptoms persist. Take care and sleep well.

By Dr Hailey Meaklim

Dr Hailey Meaklim

Dr Hailey Meaklim is a Sleep Psychologist and Researcher in Melbourne, Australia. She is U.S Board Certified in Behavioural Sleep Medicine. She has worked across leading sleep clinics and research centers including St Vincent’s Hospital Sleep Centre, the John Trinder Sleep Laboratory at the University of Melbourne, and the Institute for Breathing and Sleep.