Today marks the beginning of Sleep Awareness Week (August 5th-11th).
Led by the Sleep Health Foundation, Australia’s leading advocate for healthy sleep, the awareness campaign aims to improve people’s lives by promoting sleep, advocating for the importance of good sleep and raising awareness of sleep disorders.
The quality and quantity of the sleep you have plays a very significant role in your overall wellbeing.
Many studies have found sleep deprivation is linked to:
• Changing hormones that regulate hunger and appetite
• Concentration and memory issues
• Weakened immunity
• High blood pressure
• Weight gain
• Low sex drive
• Poor balance
• Heart disease
To support and help build awareness, we are sharing the Sleep Health Foundation’s top common causes of inadequate sleep:
1. Taking sleep for granted
Many people do not realize how important sleep is. Instead, they may think of it as a waste of time. Time spent in bed asleep is time well spent. There are many very important things that the brain needs to do while asleep. These include forming memories and going through the day’s events. Give it a chance to do these things, make sure that you spend enough time in bed.
2. Too much caffeine, alcohol and sleeping tablets
The caffeine in tea and coffee is a stimulant that prevents you sleeping well. Alcohol may make you drowsy, but your sleep will be very restless. Sleeping tablets are not recommended, become less effective with regular use and may become addicted.
3. Shift work
Many workers have shifts that keep changing. This makes it harder to get into a regular sleep pattern. Some people adjust to shift work better than others but sleep deprivation is common.
4. Jet lag
Changing time zones can disturb the sleep pattern significantly. The internal body clock will readjust to the new zone, but it often takes a few days.
5. Eating and drinking late
Eating too close to bedtime can cause heartburn and discomfort in the chest. Avoid late meals. Any snack before bedtime should be small and light. Try to limit your fluids before bedtime so that you don’t have to get up to go to the toilet during the night.
6. Failing to wind down before bed
Exercising, computer games and TV too close to bedtime can disturb sleep.
Day to day living can be stressful. This can interfere with sleep. Give yourself a chance to relax and unwind before going to bed. Find ways to make your life less stressful.
8. Sleep disorders
Sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnoea and restless legs can affect your sleep over long periods of time. It is important to consult your health practitioner if you have symptoms of these disorders.
9. Other medical conditions and pregnancy
There are many other things that can disturb sleep. It could be a medical condition such as asthma or painful arthritis. Or it could be something psychological. The key here is find the causes so you can deal with them. Pregnancy can disturb your sleep, especially in the final months. Leg cramps, discomfort in the chest and having to go to the toilet often all play a part in this.
10. Drug side effects
Many over the counter and prescription drugs can disturb sleep. If you feel this may be the case, talk to your doctor. There may be other options for you.