Ex­perts say don’t ig­nore the snore

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Health - By GIO­VANNI TORRE

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.

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