Regardless of whether you’ve been juggling a full-time job with home-schooling, or simply trying to be the best parent you can be during a global pandemic, the upheaval and uncertainty of this year has been no mean feat for parents. It’s no surprise that lockdown has led many of us to develop new routines, including enjoying an extra glass or two of wine or a beer at the end of the day.
Research from the Australian National University recently revealed that around 20% of Australians upped their alcohol consumption during the pandemic. Comparable to men, female drinkers were 1.3 times as likely to say that their consumption increased, with spending more time at home, stress, anxiety and boredom among the biggest drivers.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) also surveyed Australian parents during the lockdown in May, to find that almost one in six (14%) of them were drinking every day. More than one in four (29%) said they had increased their alcohol intake since the start of the lockdown, with millennial parents the most likely to be drinking more (35%), followed by Gen X parents (28%), then baby boomers (16%).
Pressures resulting from lockdown were noted as a considerable factor for the increased alcohol consumption. Almost two-fifths (38%) of Australian parents reported heightened levels of stress and anxiety as the reason for their increased alcohol intake, with one in four parents specifically pinpointing the challenges of home-schooling.
Some parents may drink alcohol because they believe it helps them with their sleep. However, alcohol can negatively affect quality of sleep – something of utmost importance after busy, tired days of parenting.
Research from the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in Maryland, United States, tells us that alcohol is one of the most commonly used “over the counter” sleep aids. Further NCBI research indicates that, while the presence of alcohol in the system can help some people fall asleep, it can cause significant disruptions and a poorer quality sleep later in the night.
This means mums and dads who enjoy a wind-down wine or beer before bed might not get a quality night’s sleep, which is important to helping manage stress, anxiety and overall health and wellbeing. Put simply, the more you drink, the more disrupted your sleep can become.
Further to this, the recent Australian Millennial Report discovered that getting a better night’s sleep is one of the main health goals for around half of young people aged 25-35 years old, along with better mental health, weight loss and staying fit. However, only around 10 per cent of the same group said they wanted to reduce or stop their alcohol intake, even though cutting back on alcohol can benefit each of those areas.
Although COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are easing across most Australian states, the pandemic is still at the forefront of many people’s minds, particularly for Victorians, where new restrictions have been introduced. Whilst it might feel hard to find things to celebrate at the moment, cutting back on alcohol could be what it takes to provide some sleep-deprived parents a post-iso silver lining – a better night’s sleep!
In a bid to support people in achieving their health goals, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation is keen to share the many benefits that can come from drinking less. The #CelebrateYOU campaign focuses on encouraging young adults, particularly those that may have increased their drinking during lockdown, to experience and celebrate the positive impacts of cutting back on their alcohol consumption.
“From getting a better night’s sleep, to dropping those extra iso-kilos, saving money, or feeling more motivated to get up and seize the day. There are a wide range of benefits associated with reduced alcohol intake,” explained Alcohol and Drug Foundation Spokesperson, Laura Bajurny.
To learn more about the campaign and the many benefits of drinking less, visit https://adf.org.au/celebrateyou/
For free and confidential drug information or support, the ADF encourages people to visit www.adf.org.au or call the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s DrugInfo line on 1300 85 85 84. The non-judgmental service provides the facts about alcohol and other drugs, advice on how to support loved ones, and connects people with relevant health and support services in their state and territory.
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