Insomnia and Disturbed Sleep
Centurion Healthcare's Insomnia Clinic is comprised of an integrated sleep team dealing with the many contributing factors to sleep disorders. What makes our service so unique is the collaboration between sleep physicians, respiratory physicians and clinical psychologists to address all underlying components of a sleep disorder.
Do I have a sleep disorder?
Sleep apnoea is commonly associated with loud snoring and excessive tiredness during the day. A clinical psychologist can identify and work to reduce the effect of the psychological component in obstructive sleep apnoea. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a technique used to shape the way that the mind works, to bring changes into thoughts and behaviours. A common contributing factor of sleep apnoea is day-to-day stress, and health professionals can ease the mind using cognitive behavioural therapy and introduce some structured changes to a patient's lifestyle.
Insomnia is a difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night. A NSW study showed that approximately a third of the sample population exhibited signs of insomnia. Shift workers are particularly at risk, as they have a less consistent diurnal rhythm (24-hr sleep cycle). Individuals who are suffering from insomnia experience lethargy and problems concentrating, are more prone to automobile accidents and have an increased risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes. A clinical psychologist will help to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions, CBT will be used in order to identify problematic behaviours that may be preventing you from having a good night's sleep.
What is good sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to a person's day-to-day sleep regimen, and having a good set of sleep practices is essential to achieving quality sleep. Unfortunately, prioritising work and leisure time, and neglecting the importance of good sleep hygiene can destructure the body's natural sleep cycle, leading to poorer mood and attention during the day. Here is a list of good sleep habits to help improve sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday - This one may seem obvious, but keeping a strict sleep schedule is very important in maintaining circadian rhythms. After establishing a regular wake-up time, the body will gradually adjust to wake up naturally at that time each day.
- Prioritise sunlight exposure - Natural light is important in the body's production of melatonin, a hormone which anticipates the onset of night, preparing the body for sleep. This will help to maintain the body's circadian rhythms. Stepping out into the sunlight is a great way to wake up and prepare for the rest of the day.
- Only use the bedroom for bedroom activities - Ideally, a bedroom should be just that, a room for the bed. Using the bedroom, and specifically the bed, to study, watch TV, read the paper, etc., will eventually lead to an association forming to these activities when entering the room. Alternatively, if the bedroom is exclusively used when it is time for sleep, the body will begin to anticipate rest upon entering the room, and it will become easier to fall asleep.
- Get regular exercise each day - Engaging in some physical activity each day to promote better quality sleep. The Australian Government Dept of Health recommends moderate intensity exercise summing to 150 - 300 minutes each week - that's approximately 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Exercising on a regular basis has many other benefits; a morning walk or run is a great way to keep fit, while a lunch time walk during office hours can help to relieve tension and stress from work. Keep in mind that exercising after dinner or right before bed can actually be counterproductive, as it increases heart rate and blood flow, raising alertness and delaying sleep onset time.
- Have an awareness of sleep needs - It's important to consider lifestyle and energy expenditure when determining need for sleep. Sleep needs will differ from day to day or from person to person, depending on the kind of work and lifestyle activities performed. It's also important to try and get plenty of quality sleep - in a bed as opposed to dosing off in front of the TV on the couch.