Experts say don’t ignore the snore
SLEEP is hugely important to health and wellbeing.
Last week was Sleep Awareness Week, when the Sleep Health Foundation raised awareness of the common sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA, and the benefits of treatment.
The key message of the foundation is “Don’t ignore the snore! Sleep apnoea is treatable. See your GP now”.
A 2015 national survey conducted by the foundation found that Australians on average went to bed at 11.14pm and awoke at 6.32am.
People aged 18 to 34 slept 48 minutes longer than people aged 55+, but people aged 55+ squared the ledger somewhat by having 10 per cent more naps than the 1834 cohort.
Dr Melissa Ree, a clinical psychologist at Sleep Matters, said while the theme this year was sleep apnoea, it was also a good opportunity to make sure people were thinking about sleep in general, and the most common sleep disorder, insomnia.
“I think it’s important the public is aware of the importance of healthy sleep, but not to scare people. Unhelpful information circulates from time to time, along the lines of ‘Something terrible will happen to your health if you don’t get eight hours sleep a night’, which isn’t true and makes people who may already be worried about their sleep more anxious, which makes their sleep worse,” she said.
“It’s important to remember that the most common sleep disorders – insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea – are usually treatable. People do need to be informed about evidence-based treatment for sleep disorders and how to access them,” she said.
“For insomnia, the recommended first line of treatment is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), either face-toface via a sleep psychologist, in a group (such as The Marian Centre in Wembley), via a CBT-based self-help book (often better outcomes if supported by a clinician), or via online treatments ( such as Shuti or Sleepio).”
“Bright light therapy is getting some interest at the moment – this is a treatment for circadian rhythm disorders such as delayed sleep phase, in which the person can’t fall asleep until very late (after 1am) and then has difficulty waking in time to get to commitments the next day.
“Exposure to light is interesting as it can either worsen sleep (such as in adolescents who spend hours on screens in the evening) or correct sleep (30 minutes of morning bright light to a night owl who struggles to get up in the morning). It can also be helpful in the case of shift work.”
Dr Ree said the websites Sleep Hub (Australian) and Slumber Wise are a source of interesting information about sleep.
Dr Melissa Ree.