News National Power nap: Research to reveal how much politicians sleep

Power nap: Research to reveal how much politicians sleep

A long night of debate gets to then-Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer in May 2014. Photo: AAP
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Exactly how much sleep federal politicians get when they descend on Canberra is set to be revealed through a world-first study.

About 80 MPs and senators, their staff and veteran press gallery journalists have donned watches that measure sleep levels and physical activity for three weeks as part of the research.

The period included two parliamentary sitting weeks and one week when parliament wasn’t sitting, to compare how much sleep politicians get when they are in the national capital and their home towns.

Greens Senators Janet Rice and Peter Whish-Wilson were among the group, most of whom can’t be revealed due to research requirements.

The phenomenon is not unique to Australia, with Turkish politicians feeling the need to rest. Photo: Getty

The politicians are the first to partake in a broader study that will track the sleep and activity patterns of various Australian workers, including emergency services personnel and others who work overnight.

The research has been instigated by the Australasian Sleep Association and Sleep Health Foundation and is being conducted by the University of Western Australia and Canberra Sleep Clinic.

“We thought we’d start right at the top,” researcher Dr Stuart Miller said.

“We felt that it’s an area where responsibility is really high. We really depend upon them, the parliamentary staff, to make good decisions.”

The business of politics can be tedious, even at the United Nations. Photo: Getty

The politicians’ data will be analysed and then made public in the coming months.

Dr Miller said along with showing how much sleep politicians get, the broader study is aimed at highlighting how important a role sleep plays for all Australians.

Sleep problems can have a range of negative impacts, relating to productivity, safety on the roads, mood and weight, he said.