News

25-01-2016

Lack of sleep may cause fatigue, poor concentration, poor memory, mood disturbance, impaired reaction time, poor physical coordination, altered immune status, increased risk of heart disease and diabetes and impaired judgement.

The time we feel sleepy and wake up is influenced by an internal clock that varies between people. The clock is partly determined by our genes and also by routines and lifestyle.

General suggestion for improved sleep include

  • Expose yourself to bright light soon after waking and avoid bright light in the evening
  • Minimise light, noise and electronics in the bedroom. Artificial light sources disrupts melatonin production, a key hormone regulating circadian rhythms
  • Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime to allow time to wind down and for your core temperature to fall
  • Sleep tracking devices and apps may worsen insomnia, studying the data generated can lead to compulsive checking and focus more on worrying about sleep quantity
  • Minimise other external disruptions such as pets, morning light too early, too warm or too cold, partner snoring ( ear plugs, eye covers, better curtains, heating, fans, night lights and separate bedrooms)
  • Don't take you worries to bed, chose a time earlier in the day to write out your main worries and some options for dealing with them
  • Several wakenings during the night are normal, it is important not  to do small distracting tasks like checking the phone or time during the wakening, but to roll over and try to be relaxed about the thought of going back to sleep
  • Avoid afternoon naps, maintaining regular sleep hours helps to balance natural sleep rhythms. If you are planning to nap, a quick 10 minute nap improves alertness and decreases fatigue, but more than 20 minutes tends to result in grogginess
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon, nicotine and alcohol also affect sleep quality
  • Small portion low GI carbs in the evening meal will help sustain blood glucose levels overnight
  • Trial milky drinks in the evening ( contain sleep-enhancing amino acids - melatonin, tryptophan, long-chain fats, vitamin B6 and B12 and magnesium)
  • Take a warm bath or shower to lower your core temperature
  • Turn the clock to the wall and the phone over
  • Get out of bed if sleep does not come in a reasonable time and do something else for thirty minutes, keep the lights dim and do something relaxing
  • Consider professional help to improve sleep, depression and anxiety will create sleep difficulties.

Your GP can help determine some of the issues relating to your sleep concerns and The Sleep Health Foundation is keen to share information about sleep and sleep quality at sleephealthfoundation.org.au

 

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