If you’re reading this you might be trying to calculate how many hours of shut-eye you got in last night, and if you’re like 7.4 million other Australians, you may be feeling the effects of sleep deprivation.
The effects of sleep deprivation go way beyond being a little tired – and they can be surprising. Extended periods of bad sleep have been shown to lead to problems with productivity and safety in the workplace, and chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of developing serious health issues including obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
So, how can you give yourself the best chance of consistently getting a decent rest in?
If you like to scroll the web before bed, you certainly wouldn’t be alone. But the blue light that radiates from your smart device’s screen has been reported as something that can have a negative impact on your sleep.
Unplugging altogether is likely to be your best bet for a better night’s sleep. Experts say blue light can trick the brain into thinking it’s daytime, inhibiting the production of melatonin – the hormone that helps to regulate sleep.
Also, think about the content you’re consuming before bed. Videos are thought to stimulate the brain, and studies show even relaxing activities like reading can disrupt sleep patterns if done on certain screens, due to the blue light exposure.
‘Sleep hygiene’ refers to your pre-bedtime habits and, just like physical hygiene, it’s something wise to maintain.
It’s recommended to avoid mentally stimulating activities like watching TV at least one hour prior to sleep and do your best to hit the hay at the same time each night. Establishing a set routine has been shown to teach your body to anticipate sleep, and you’ll likely find yourself getting drowsy in the evening.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer to avoid coffee right before bed, but you might not know that tests have shown the effects of caffeine can last from 4 to 6 hours – and it takes the body a full 24 hours to completely eliminate it. To avoid impacting your sleep, it’s recommended to avoid caffeine for at least 4 hours before you hit the hay.
Tests have also shown that alcohol can disrupt your sleep. Though it will likely make you feel sleepy and might even help you fall asleep, drinking before bed has been associated with more frequent awakenings, night sweats, nightmares and headaches later in the night. Just like with coffee, it’s recommended to avoid alcohol for at least 4 hours before you turn in.
If you experience persistent difficulty with getting to sleep and staying asleep, you might have a sleep disorder.
There are a number of sleep disorders out there. Some common ones include insomnia, narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) affects five per cent of Australians, so if you are battling with daytime fatigue, poor concentration, snoring, or you notice pauses in breathing while sleeping, you might want to conduct a sleep study to see if you’ve got OSA.
Pharmacies like Pharmacy 777 offer home-based sleep studies. A home sleep study is conducted in the comfort of your own home, with data then assessed in a report by a sleep physician and the results discussed with your Pharmacist
For more information regarding sleep health services visit www.pharmacy777.com.au/sleep