Why can’t I get to sleep?

Asleep At Work

Our friends at the Sleepwell Clinic share common reasons for reduced sleep and tips to help nab that night’s rest to help keep us fresh and recover from injury faster. 

Sleep allows our bodies and minds to rest and repair so they can function well. The amount of sleep we need varies from person to person. Most adults need 7-8 hours each night, but some need more and others less. Teenagers and children usually need more sleep than adults.

Both the quality and quantity of sleep are important and often intertwined. Poor sleep patterns, such as difficulty staying asleep or difficulty getting back to sleep after waking, can result from years of disturbances that occur during sleep itself.

lying-awake-with-snorer

Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Snoring is the most common cause of poor sleep quality for patients and their partners attending sleep disorder clinics in New Zealand but can often be a sign of sleep apnoea which might require closer attention. Common symptoms of sleep disturbance arising from snoring and/or sleep apnoea include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Toileting once or more during the night
  • Choking or loud gasping, during snoring.
  • Weight gain
  • Reduced sexual function
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

insomnia

Insomnia

Insomnia is when someone is unable to get the right quantity of refreshing (quality) sleep. Either they are not able to go to sleep easily, or stay asleep, or they wake too early in the morning. It can be a symptom of stress and anxiety. Also it can be because of sleep disturbance from another cause such as snoring. Dealing with the cause is often the key to stopping insomnia. Sometimes – for example during illness, or at times of grief or excitement – it may be helpful to relieve sleeplessness with medicines, but for a short period only.

  • Worrying about your lack of sleep often makes the problem worse because worry becomes another cause of disturbance.
  • Sleep patterns change and sleep problems are more likely as people age. People with painful conditions, eg arthritis, tend to have insomnia, as do women in the lead-up to menopause, because of hormonal changes.
  • Have enough exercise each day, but not too late in the day, to feel physically tired. There is some form of exercise suitable for everyone – regardless of age or ability. Try swimming, cycling, bowls, golf or simply going for a walk.
  • Have a bedtime routine so that going to sleep becomes part of the routine. Try to make it the same each night and involve some form of relaxation.
  • Try to settle any problems before going to bed, so your mind is more relaxed. Talk them out or write them down.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet and warm without being overheated. Keep it well ventilated. Have a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Relax in bed, and let sleep come by itself rather than thinking and worrying about it.

For more information go to www.sleepwellclinic.co.nz 0800 22 75 33.

Bryn Sparks
Senior Sleep Physiologist
Sleepwell Clinic

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