chronic pain and insomnia

Pain has the ability to stop sleep dead in its tracks before calm has a chance to descend. Then, if a sufferer does manage to slumber, pain has an unconscionable ability to reach its uncomfortable tentacles deep into slumber often waking someone from much needed rest. To compound matters, just as pain triggers insomnia, insomnia exacerbates pain. It’s no wonder so many Aussies are exhausted and sore. Read more

insomnia problems

Do you lay awake, wide eyed and desperately wishing for sleep, night after night?  Significant sleeplessness can be an intermittent or long term foe and its effects on your health can be alarming. Yes, there’s the tired, irritable self we’ve all experienced from time to time when we’ve burnt the candle at both ends instead of heading to bed early at a reasonable time. But insomnia is a different beast.

The 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults reported that we, Aussies, are missing out on sufficient shuteye en masse, with a lack of sleep affecting an estimated 33-45% of adults. Twenty percent of us also suffer from a significant form of insomnia. Read more

The most Googled personal question worldwide is, ‘Why am I so tired?’ Statistically speaking, those who use this search term are most likely to be between 12 and 18 years old. It seems teenagers are the most tired demographic of all.

Sadly, according to the article Sleep Deprivation in Adolescents and Young Adults 70% of Australian teens are chronically sleep deprived. This may be double that of any other age group. Many are labelled as depressed, mood-disordered or lazy, when simple exhaustion is to blame.

Adolscence effect on your teen’s sleep

Adolescents are in a biological transition, moving from a childhood to an adult circadian rhythm. This involves a change in the sleep hormone, melatonin. Teenage brains produce melatonin later at night than the brains of children. The peak production of this crucial hormone is between 11am and 8am. This leads to both falling asleep and waking later. However, life doesn’t work to this schedule. Teen’s sleep is usually interrupted with an early alarm artificially signalling the beginning of a new day.

Professor Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep writes, “Sadly neither society nor our parental attitudes are well designed to appreciate and accept that teenagers need more sleep than adults and that they are biologically wired to obtain that sleep at a different time to their parents.” This creates a dearth of adequate teen sleep.

Australian paediatric and adolescent sleep physician Dr Chris Seton has identified an additional issue affecting teenagers. Dr Seton uses the term ‘Screenagers’ to describe those whose bedtime is further delayed by the hormonal changes caused by exposure to screens, and so blue light, near bedtime. Blue light suppresses melatonin, and can confuse the brain and blur the boundary between wakefulness and sleep.

Changing rhythms, melatonin and screen use are common culprits, however, there are other issues that might also affect an adolescent’s ability to sleep. Lifestyle factors such as poor time management, high caffeine or sugar consumption, or a late-night part-time job can all contribute to your adolescent’s sleep difficulties.

Consider the possibility that mental illness, worry or stress are keeping your teenager awake. Check environmental factors, too. Is their bedroom conducive to a good night’s sleep? Is it dark, comfortably cool, perfectly quiet, and secure? Do they have a supportive and comfortable mattress and pillow ?

It can be difficult to uncover and resolve teen sleep problems, especially if they’re due to a combination of factors. To combat this, Dr Seton urges parents to help their teen’s as a matter of priority. “The effects of sleep deprivation in teens go way beyond tiredness and academic failure,” states Dr Seton. “They can also include altered body image, school lateness and absenteeism, cyber and non-cyber bullying, depression (15 fold), anxiety, drug-use risk elevation, poor stress coping and more.”

Ultimately, if lack of sleep is affecting your child’s ability to function and thrive, it is essential you consult a relevant health expert as the first step toward helping your teen sleep as well as is possible.

Are you an expectant mum who’s wide awake while the rest the world slumbers? You are in good company. A National Sleep Foundation poll found that 78% of women reported greater sleep disturbances during pregnancy than at other times. This can be due to numerous reasons, including hormonal changes, frequent urination, anxiety, nausea, heartburn, restless leg syndrome, or sleep apnoea.

Mums-to-be need to find effective sleep strategies to ensure they receive the ample rest they need. Research studies have shown that sleep-deprived pregnant women may experience a longer labour, increased pain and discomfort during labour, plus higher rates of preterm labour and caesarean section. After baby’s birth, those who are sleep poorly may also feel restless and depressed.

As the authors of the study Sleep Deprivation during Pregnancy and Maternal and Fetal Outcomes: Is There a Relationship? note, “Pregnant women particularly need sufficient sleep to nourish the development of their infants and the energy they need for the labor and delivery process.”

Healthy sleep for pregnancy simply must be a priority. The good news that by focusing on sleeping well, you’ll feel and cope better. These 5 steps will help you achieve the sound eight hours per night you need:

  1. Position yourself with pillows

Expectant mums often feel most comfortable sleeping on their left side. Lay down with a pillow underneath and gently supporting your tummy. Bend your knees, pop a peanut pillow  in between them, and find a position of ease. Use a Posture Form pillow  to perfectly support your neck.

  1. Maximise your comfort

Use different sized pillows and cushions to support the various parts of your body for maximum comfort. If your mattress seems too hard, switch to another or invest in a more affordable mattress topper. Choose bed clothes that they are loose, cotton-rich and allow you to stretch and relax. Consider the temperature of your bedroom and adjust it, as needed, to remain feeling comfortable.

  1. Calm anxiety

Darkness, stillness and silence can sometimes allow our thoughts to run wild. With no distractions in place, anxiety can run amok. If fretfulness is keeping you awake, there are approaches that can help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), meditation, and practicing deep breathing techniques can work beautifully. Use a notes app on your phone to list concerns that can be dealt with the following day.

  1. Take strategic naps

The trick here is to take short naps of not more than 30-minutes to avoid falling into deep sleep and causing grogginess. Short naps can be the perfect antidote to daytime fatigue, without impairing night time sleep.

  1. Coolness

During pregnancy, hormonal changes led to increased body heat. If you live in a warm climate or are carrying through summer — or both — you are in for some hot and sticky nights. Air-conditioning, fans set to counter-clockwise, cotton sheets and cooling ice packs will become your best friends!

As an expectant mother, allow yourself to prioritise great sleep for pregnancy. Position, comfort, calm, strategic napping and maintaining a comfy, cool temperature during the night will boost your health and the health of your growing baby.

A wise person once said, “Laugh and the world laughs with you –  snore and you sleep alone.” Most people will snore from time to time; however, if you live with a chronic snorer, you know that this topic is no laughing matter.

Statistics show that around 40 percent of men and 24 percent of women are habitual snorers and – whether they realise it or not – their snoring wreaks havoc on their own health and negatively impacts their significant other too.