6 FACTORS THAT AFFECT SLEEP
Identifying health conditions or other issues that could be disturbing your sleep will help you get to the bottom of the problem.
1. Medicines: Some overthe-counter medicines like antihistamines and decongestants can disturb sleep. Prescription medicines that can affect sleep quality are those used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease. Sleeping pills can be useful as a short-term fix, for instance when a specific life event is making it hard to sleep, but they can make you feel sleepy during the day. Using them regularly can mean they will stop working, and when you stop taking them, you might find it harder to get to sleep.
2. Allergic rhinitis: Sleep problems are common in people with allergic rhinitis, which occurs when allergens in the air are breathed in, irritating and inflaming the nasal passages.
Dust mites, pollen, mould and pet dander are all common allergy triggers that cause nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose. Taking steps to limit your exposure, such as using dust-mite covers on your pillow and mattresses and keeping pets out of the bedroom, will help.
3. Asthma: People with asthma often suffer from night-time coughing, wheezing and breathlessness that disturbs their sleep. Talk to your doctor to develop a treatment plan to address this.
4. Depression: Depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders. If you suffer from depression, you could have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and experience daytime sleepiness. Speak to your GP, who may recommend a therapist.
5. Pain: Chronic or acute pain can lead to shorter sleep or poor sleep quality. Factors like noise, light, temperature and mattress comfort are more likely to affect those who suffer from pain.
6. Restless legs syndrome: People with restless legs syndrome suffer from uncomfortable feelings in the legs – thought to be caused by a magnesium and/or iron deficiency – usually from the evening through to the early hours of the morning. The only way to stop them is to move your legs, which can disrupt your sleep. Speak to your doctor or naturopath for solutions.