Big Sleep Survey 2010

Results Update

The Big Sleep Survey has now closed. An amazing number of people volunteered to be citizen scientists and take part in the Big Sleep Survey 2010. More than 12,000 people told us about their personal sleep habits in the questionnaire, while over 3,500 people completed the week-long sleep diaries recording the time they went to bed, fell asleep and woke up.

Scientists at the Woolcock Institute in Sydney are currently scientifically analysing the survey data for significant results. This process is expected to take many months, and should result in a peer-reviewed paper in a scientific journal.

In the meantime, the Big Sleep Survey team has done its own ‘non-scientific’ analysis of the data so we can get an idea of what the results may be – it’s a bit like peaking into the box before Christmas.

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Big Sleep Survey


Australian sleep researchers from CIRUS at the University of Sydney have teamed up with ABC Science to find out how we're all sleeping.

Sleep researchers from the University of Sydney have teamed up with ABC Science to run a national survey on how well the Australian population sleeps.

The researchers from the University's Centre for Integrated Research and Understanding of Sleep (CIRUS) and Woolcock Institute are running the Big Sleep Survey all through August.

The survey will seek to answer some interesting questions such as:

  • How much sleep are we actually getting?
  • Have mobiles and laptops in the bedroom affected our sleep?
  • How many people experience "parasomnias", such as sleepwalking, sleep talking, night terrors and restless leg syndrome?
  • Is someone's snoring driving you crazy?

Professor Ron Grunstein from the Woolcock Institute said the important role of sleep had been well documented.

"Although we don't know the exact function of sleep, we know that it is important," he said.

"Why else would animals give up an opportunity to reproduce, eat, drink or socialise and risk being eaten? Loss of sleep results in sleepiness and impaired alertness with consequences for our safety.

"However, sleep is a complex state and recent theories on sleep function suggest the sleep state is not a universal, all or nothing condition. Sleeping and waking seem to exist simultaneously in different brain regions.

"This is a likely explanation of why some people can walk or talk in their sleep. It may explain why people with insomnia feel like they are awake when the brain electrical signals that we record suggest they are asleep."

The first Sleep Survey was run in Australia ten years ago.

How to participate

Go to to register for the Big Sleep Survey 2010. Participants can submit the survey any time during August 2010.

Media contacts: Rachel Gleeson, University of Sydney Media Officer on 0403 067 342, (02) 9351 4312 or

Megan McKay, ABC Science on 0412 165543 for interviews and photos.