As you nod off to dreamland every night, you should count yourself lucky.
Canberra has just been rated as the best city in the world to catch a good night’s sleep in – despite the loud bangs that seem to plague much of the inner north, inner south, Belconnen, Gungahlin, Queanbeyan, Woden and Tuggeranong.
You’d think these loud noises would impair us from counting sheep, but apparently that’s not the case.
There is a Facebook group entirely dedicated to ‘reporting Canberra’s loud bangs’. With around 1800 dedicated members, these concerned citizens post every time they hear a loud bang, and provide their suburb or location.
Most of the city’s loud bangs can be attributed to people setting off fireworks or cars backfiring. Oftentimes, it’s dogs who are the most affected by the loud bangs and they tend to bark or disturb the neighbourhood.
However, sometimes more exciting things happen.
At the beginning of August, residents of Canberra and Queanbeyan were warned to expect some loud noises from the Majura Training Area, where a live firing exercise was conducted.
During the day, loud noises and vibrations could be heard, and dog owners were urged to keep their pets inside or secure.
Despite all of this hullabaloo, Canberra was ultimately ranked top of 36 cities around the world for having a snooze. Coming in second was the Austrian capital, Vienna, and in third place was the tiny European city-state of Luxembourg.
The sleep study, which was conducted by online contact lens retailer Lenstore, took a variety of factors into account, including temperature and humidity, air quality and light pollution.
Those ranked among the worst cities in the world for a night’s sleep included Washington DC, Paris, Rome and London.
Canberra was number one for the lowest amounts of night lights and noise pollution, with a score of 80.82 out of 100.
“This is more than double compared to the likes of Mexico City, with a score of just 35.65 out of 100,” the report reads.
Canberra’s dark streets are a well known feature of the planned city, and it’s got a lot to do with the fact that astronomy was already underway at Mount Stromlo Observatory before the city was built.
The air quality in Canberra is also the third best in the world, second only to Wellington, New Zealand, and Bern, Switzerland.
The report’s researchers also found that, on average, people are only catching six hours and 54 minutes of sleep per night, 66 minutes shy of the full eight hours we are supposed to get.
Across a 50-year period, this means you could miss out on more than 30,000 hours of sleep.
PsychSessions sleep team clinical psychologist Lucienne Shenfield, says sleep is critical for both physical and mental wellbeing, and “if we have poor sleep, it’s really likely that our physical and mental health will suffer”.
Furthermore, making choices which positively benefit our wellbeing is often much harder if we don’t get good shut-eye.
While this is particularly important right now during COVID-19 lockdown, Lucienne urges us not to stress out too much if you can’t achieve the perfect night’s sleep with all that’s currently going on.
“Stressing out too much about not getting good sleep is going to be counterproductive and make you less able to sleep well,” she says.
“Instead, focus on implementing small changes to improve sleep hygiene and educating yourself about what they might be,” she said.
Lucienne says one easy way to improve sleep is to be mindful of our local light pollution by being aware of how much time we are spending on screens.
“This can affect our melatonin production which can immediately lead to difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep,” she says.
Her best advice is to simply “go easy on yourself”.