Every night you need a good amount of sleep to give your body a chance to recover, both physically and mentally.
When you don’t get enough sleep your day to day life can be affected and it can lead to health complications.
“A good night sleep is having enough so you can function optimally the next day. How much sleep a person requires is different for everyone. We know that most people need between seven and nine hours sleep each night,” says Sleep Physician from the Sleep Health Foundation, Dr Maree Barnes.
You can have trouble problem solving, bad memory, become easily irritated, and have trouble concentrating, driving and much more. A lack of sleep can also cause mental health issues to worsen or may even contribute to the onset of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.
“It’s a two way street. Being depressed and anxious can affect your sleep and not having enough sleep can cause you to be depressed or anxious. It’s like a vicious cycle,” she says.
It can lower your immune system, meaning that you will get sick easier more often, and it can even lead to obesity and diabetes.
“People who don’t have enough sleep are more tired and this in turn makes them hungry. The type of foods they crave tend to be high in carbohydrates because their bodies need more energy, and this causes them to put on weight,” she says.
“Then you have all the health consequences of obesity associated with that, possibly including diabetes.”
Two of the most common sleep disorders are insomnia and Sleep Apnoea.
“Sleep Apnoea is a disease where you stop breathing in your sleep; your oxygen level falls and that sends a message to the brain and you begin to breathe again,” Maree explains.
“Obesity is the most common cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. When you’re overweight you have larger fat pads that line the upper airway.
“When we go to sleep at night all the muscles in our body relax, as do the muscles in the upper airway. When those muscles relax the airway becomes a little bit smaller and that on top of larger fat pads can cause Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.”
Sufferers of Sleep Apnoea caused by obesity can often lose weight to resolve this completely.
“Insomnia is where you have difficulty going to sleep at the beginning of the night or you wake during the night and are unable to get back to sleep; this happens consistently,” she says.
“Most people should have no trouble getting to sleep within half an hour of going to bed.”
Sometimes the best way to treat sleep insomnia can be as simple as adjusting your lifestyle.
“Not having any coffee or cigarettes before you go to bed can help you sleep because both of these contain drugs that are stimulants,” she says.
“Making sure you have a half hour wind down routine before going to bed, as this can also help.
“You shouldn’t watch any screens before you go to sleep because the light frequencies can mimic the sun’s rays and send a message to the hormone centre of the brain waking you up.”
These are just some of the ways that you can simply resolve your sleep insomnia. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, exercise and a healthy diet may also work.
In severe cases, medication may be used to treat this common cause of sleep deprivation.
An adequate amount of sleep is a must for functioning properly throughout the day. If you or someone you know has problems getting to sleep, visit your local AMS or doctors surgery.
For more information on the importance of sleep and treatment options for sleep disorders visit http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/