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Better Sleep, Better Life, Better Planet!

11th March 2020

It's World Sleep Day...

Better sleep, better life, better planet!

Most adults need between six and nine hours’ sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule and what works for you. Most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable, yet less than one-third of sufferers seek professional help.

Sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens health and quality of life for up to 45% of the world’s population.

Some sleep facts to wake you up

  • We spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping and sleep is crucial to our overall health and wellbeing with the quality rather than the quantity having a greater impact.
  • Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can have a significant negative impact on our health in both the long and short term. The following day your attention span, memory recall and learning can be negatively affected, with longer-term effects thought associated with significant health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, weakened immune systems and even some cancers.
  • Lack of sleep is related to many psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.
  • Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep also leaves us more vulnerable to accidents. People who suffer insomnia are seven times more likely to become involved in an accident causing death or serious injury than good sleepers.

Trouble sleeping?

Sleep disorders can cause significant health problems as breathing regularly during sleep is critical to maintain well-being and health. Persistent interruption of your breathing during sleep is called sleep apnoea (sometimes called central sleep apnoea (CSA)) without snoring. It that affects 4% of men and 2% of women, causes daytime sleepiness and fatigue and may lead to conditions such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, stroke and diabetes. If you suffer from CSA, your brain is not sending out that “WAKE UP!” signal.  As a result, those with CSA will temporarily stop breathing because their brain repeatedly fails to send that signal to the body to keep breathing.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) significantly impacts health and wellbeing. OSA is caused by a blockage of the upper airway. The collapse of the airway may be due to factors such as a large tongue, extra tissue or decreased muscle tone holding the airway open. With OSA, each breathing pause can last from ten seconds to more than a minute and is accompanied by a drop in oxygen associated with each event. The events may occur five to 50 times or more each hour, putting a strain on your heart and leading to numerous health conditions. Often, but not always, people with OSA snore - keep an eye out for morning headaches and fatigue too.

Restless legs syndrome is a common disorder and occurs in between 3-10% of the population, although the number of people affected and the severity of the condition differs between countries. The main symptom is an overwhelming urge to move your legs. It can also cause an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves and thighs. The sensation is often worse in the evening or at night. Occasionally, the arms are affected, too. Restless legs syndrome is also associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, known as periodic limb movements in sleep.

Insomnia affects between 30-45% of the adult population and primary insomnia (insomnia with no underlying condition) affects 1-10% of the general population, increasing up to 25% in the elderly. Insomnia can affect work performance, with a change in character and a drop in the quality of work.

Take the quiz to check your sleep habits.

Sources: NHS, WorldSleepDay.org, Resmed.

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