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Where do we start in the bid to improving our sleep?

“I think its important to take a step back and think what we want to achieve from our sleep.” Said Mr Nunn. “Typically I think people want to wake feeling refreshed and rejuvenated to tackle or enjoy the next day ahead of them. If one is not feeling these things then the first question I would ask myself is ‘Am I getting enough sleep?’

In a recent poll conducted on Facebook by Sleep Right Australia 323 out of 471 people who polled claimed they slept 6 or less hours per night. “It’s widely reported that we need 8 hours sleep per night.” Said Mr Nunn. “This is a rule of thumb which obviously varies from person to person but it is generally a pretty good guide.”

That is a pretty staggering statistic – around 70% of people who answered are sleeping 6 or less hours a night.

“This can be by choice or by circumstance.” Said Mr Nunn. “Some people get poor sleep and can’t do much about it, while some people simply choose not to sleep to get more things done.”

For the people who choose to stay awake for extended periods all we can do is keep encouraging them to try and get more sleep. But for people who are genuinely struggling to get the desired amount of sleep there are things that can be done.

“A lot of people struggle unnecessarily with a poor night’s sleep and feeling drowsy during the day.” Said Nunn. “I get the feeling there is the assumption that people don’t want to “pop pills” or have to wear “the mask” so continue to struggle on with their sleep.

Seeking professional help with your sleep is important if things aren’t happening for you. What must be remembered is that these professionals are dealing with sleep issues on a daily basis and understand peoples fears and wants in terms of treatment. “It would be an interesting poll to take with my CPAP users about whether they would have opted for treatment sooner had they known the benefits it offered.” Said Mr Nunn. “No one wants to use CPAP when they first start but what is interesting is that people often go from “I don’t want to wear this” attitude to a “How can I take this with me when I go travelling?” attitude.”

In terms of ‘popping pills’, this can be an effective measure – in the short terms for long term gain. Tablets can be used in the short term to help with changing behaviours that effect sleep. There is a big focus on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to rectify peoples sleep behaviours and results are starting to show some effective outcomes with this. Physicians are very focussed on ensuring people don’t get ‘hooked’ on sleeping tablets and use them very effectively in helping with sleep behaviours. Couple with some counselling and sleep education, good results are often achieved.

If the answer to “Am I getting enough sleep?” is yes, then we need to have a look at the quality of sleep. The best way to assess the quality of sleep is to conduct a sleep test. A sleep test measures many channels of data through the night of your sleep including, EEG, EOG, EMG, ECG, breathing, blood O2 levels, feet movement, muscular movement – you get the picture. Patients are often daunted by having sleep studies but in a lot of cases it is appropriate to have this study done in the home (speak to a professional before making this decision). From this study a physician may be able to areas that require improving which can lead to a healthier more efficient sleep. It is true that often a ‘mask’ (CPAP) may be required to treat a sleep disorder but don’t let this put you off as more and more therapies for treating sleep apnoea are entering the market – such as PROVENT and NIGHTSHIFT.

A quote we quite often hear is “I wish I got onto this sooner.”