We all crave a good night’s sleep.
But what do you do when you can’t get to sleep, or struggle to stay asleep? While one night in a while might be manageable, an ongoing sleep problem can have a huge impact on your daily activities – and your health.
The good news is that many sleep problems can be effectively treated or managed. It’s worth talking to your doctor to work out the possible causes of your insomnia, and how to sleep better.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. The Australian Health Department estimates that more than a third of Australians are not getting the sleep they need.
The underlying causes of insomnia are many and varied:
Poor sleep over an extended period of time can have a serious impact on your health, your quality of life and even your relationships with others:
Usually, a doctor will start by asking you about your sleep patterns. This could include questions like:
If you feel uncertain about the answers to some of these questions, your doctor might suggest that you start keeping a sleep diary.
A sleep diary helps you note down some of the patterns you observe around your sleep. You can note your bedtime and waketime. Or how many times you wake during the night — and for how long. You may even want to note down your electronic device habits around bedtime. All these things can help you work out how best to treat your insomnia.
Your doctor or specialist may refer you to an overnight sleep study. This can either be held at a special centre or at your home. These studies can often reveal important information about your sleep quality and potential underlying causes of insomnia.
The treatment for insomnia really depends on what’s causing your sleep problems to begin with.
For instance, women going through menopause often have trouble sleeping. Balancing the hormonal levels (e.g. hormone-replacement therapy) can help alleviate this type of insomnia.
Another example is obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). This is a condition where your breathing is repeatedly blocked — partially or completely —for more than 10 seconds during sleep. A medical device can be used during sleep to gently pump air into your airways and help prevent blockage. This can improve sleep quality.
Your treatment will also depend on whether your sleep problems are recent, or have been going on for some time.
If your sleep problems have cropped up recently, your doctor will help you identify the potential causes. For example, things at work or home could be causing you stress.
Your doctor may recommend using sleeping pills for a short period. Sleeping medications can be addictive, so they should only be used as a short term solution.
If your sleep problems have been going on for a while, your doctor can recommend ways to improve your sleep habits.
They may even recommend non-drug treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT works to undo unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that may be affecting the quality of your sleep.
Since many sleep disorders can be effectively treated, it’s worth speaking to a doctor. You can work out the possible causes of your sleep problems, and how to treat your insomnia.
If you’re wondering ‘Why can’t I sleep?’, you can book a Telehealth consultation with one of our doctors today. They can help you identify any causes of insomnia, and help you decide whether you need medication, or a specialist referral.
Are you wondering how to sleep better, the natural way? Your sleep hygiene – or healthy sleep habits – form the foundations for a good night’s rest. You could try some of these natural healthy habits to help improve your sleep:
The Sleep Health Foundation are Australia’s leading advocates for healthy sleep. They are passionate about helping Australians find the answer to ‘Why can’t I sleep?’
This year, they will be holding the ‘Sleep Awareness Week’ from March 14-20, 2021. This coincides with ‘World Sleep Day’ on March 19, 2021.
It might sound like this event encourages a day of sleep — and wouldn’t we all like that from time to time?
But actually, this annual event highlights the importance of healthy sleep. The Sleep Health Foundation wants to encourage us to prioritise sleep so that we can improve our overall health and well-being. You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter to find out more.