HEALTH & WELLBEING // How To Treat Common Sleep Disorders
Expert Advice On How To Treat Insomnia and Sleep Apnoea
Did you know that up to 45% of Australians don’t get enough sleep?
That’s a lot of people struggling to get through the next day, counting down the hours until they can fall into bed, only to have the whole cycle of no sleep or poor quality sleep start again.
And the struggle is real. Lying in bed looking at the ceiling. Tossing and turning, checking the clock and calculating how much (or how little) time you have left before your alarm is due to go off. Resisting the urge to grab your phone and scroll through Facebook knowing full well that will make falling asleep even more difficult. It’s a vicious cycle, right?
Or perhaps it’s your partner who has a sleep disorder or difficulty sleeping which impacts the quality of YOUR sleep too. Helloooooo spare room!
We caught up with Bhishan Rowjee and Ryan Isidro from Amcal Pharmacy Bowral to find out more about insomnia, sleep apnoea and how to improve sleep quality and quantity.
What is it // Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep (sleep initiation in fancy-speak) or staying asleep. There are two types of insomnia: acute and chronic. Acute insomnia is associated with an event in your life that may be stressful but temporary – something like exams, bad news, worrying about a presentation at work, concern for someone who is unwell, the list could go on because….life! Chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three times per week and lasts more than three months
Who is affected // Insomnia is more common in women (23%) compared to men (17%).
Impact // Fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, irritability, decreased performance at work or school.
Treatment // Focus on creating a regular sleep routine, and cut out or reduce the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink. Avoid daytime naps and practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises.
“It’s also important to create a suitable sleeping environment by making sure the bedroom is dark, quiet and not too hot,” says Ryan.
And of course, the big one! Avoid computer screens and devices (including your phone – sorry!) and television at least an hour before bed. Why is that so important?
“The blue light emitted by devices actually increases alertness and reduces the secretion of melatonin. You need that melatonin to get to sleep,” Ryan says.
If you suffer from chronic insomnia, speak to your pharmacist, doctor or therapist.
What is it // There are two main types of sleep apnoea. The first type is obstructive sleep apnoea. This is when a person physically stops breathing while asleep because the throat muscles relax too much and the throat closes. The second type is central sleep apnoea when the brain doesn’t send the correct signal to breathe.
Who is affected // It’s estimated 5% of Australians suffer from sleep apnoea, with one in four men over the age of 30 years affected. Men are three times more likely than women to be diagnosed with sleep apnoea.
“And of course the partners of people with sleep apnoea are affected and kept awake by loud snoring or their partner waking up suddenly. Quite often they’re the ones who bring their husband or wife into the pharmacy to discuss sleep problems with us because they are being affected so much,” says Ryan.
Sleep apnoea can have quite an impact on daily life.
“Day tiredness, fatigue, lack of focus and brain fog. When you haven’t had a restful sleep, it’s difficult to function properly during the day,” says Bhish.
Sleep apnoea has also been linked to a variety of health problems including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension.
Speak to your pharmacist, doctor or a therapist. Amcal Pharmacy Bowral treats obstructive sleep apnoea which is the most common form of the sleep disorder.
“A lot of people don’t know a pharmacist can treat this form of sleep apnoea,” says Bhish, who is a Sleep Apnoea Trained Specialist.
“If you think you have sleep apnoea, come and see us. We offer a free Sleep Health Check. We’ll ask you some questions in a consultation that will take about 5-10 minutes. If we suspect you have obstructive sleep apnoea, we’ll step you through a simple overnight study that you do at home.
“We’ll send the data from the overnight study to a specialist and if diagnosed, we can then help you with your treatment.”
A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine is used to treat obstructive sleep apnoea. This is a face mask attached to a machine that sends pressurised air into the airway, keeping it open while you sleep. Amcal Pharmacy Bowral has CPAP machines in store.
“We sell CPAP machines and various accessories, and we also service the machines,” says Bhish.
“Sleep disorders can be quite debilitating and frustrating. Amcal is part of Australia’s largest pharmacy sleep network. If you believe you or someone else you know suffers from sleep apnoea, come and speak to us.”
*Statistics provided by 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults: the University of Adelaide and the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health.
If you want to check out a recent segment on the Today Show about sleep apnoea, watch here!
The 'boring' important disclaimer bit you need to read! This blog post has been created for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. That means - go and seek medical advice! Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard their advice or delay going to see them because of something you have read in this blog.
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